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Full text of "The Princess of Cleves. By Madame de La Fayette. Tr. by Thomas Sergeant Perry. With illustrations drawn by Jules Garnier, and engraved by A. Lamotte"

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VOL. I. 



Copyright, 1891, 





PART 1 47 

PART II 131 



lished in the spring of 1678 by 
Claude Barbin, whose place of business 
was on the second floor of the Sainte- 
Chapelle. It was a good house, for 
Barbin was the publisher of Boileau, La 
Fontaine, and Racine. The " Phedre " 
had appeared but a short time before ; 
the first volume of a new edition of the 
" Fables " had just been put on sale; and 
for the autumn there was announced 
a fifth edition, much enlarged, of the 
"Maxims" of Monsieur de la Rochefou- 
cauld. Barbin was no Elzevir ; he 

8 Preface. 

wrought, not for students or for con- 
noisseurs, but for the court and the 
town. His books were printed without 
elegance, and were designed for a wide 
circulation. He had shrewdly printed 
the " Princess of Cleves " in four small 
volumes, in large type, doubtless in 
order to be able to ask the highest pos- 
sible price for a book long announced 
and belauded ; possibly, too, in order 
that ladies might be able to carry into 
bowers and drawing-rooms the light 
volumes of a book written for them by 
one of themselves. 

The " Princess of Cleves " bore no 
author's name. Etiquette forbade that 
there should be exposed on the stalls of 
the Palais and of the Rue Saint-Jacques 
the titlepage of a book bearing the 
name of a lady of the court It was 
commonly supposed that the Duke of 

Preface. 9 

La Rochefoucauld, the lover of Madame 
de la Fayette, had lent his aid, and that 
perhaps Segrais had written part of it. 1 
Segrais, a poor gentleman and an 
academician, had for some time been a 
member of the household of Madame 
de la Fayette, occupying an humble po- 
sition in an elegant and noble domes- 
ticity. In 1670 he had put his name 
to " Zaide : a Spanish Story," which 
Monsieur Huet and all the duke's 
friends freely attributed to Madame de 

1 There was published this introductory note, from 
"The Publisher to the Reader," which denied noth- 
ing, confessed nothing, and contained an unfulfilled 
promise : " In spite of the approval that readers have 
expressed for this story, the author has not been able 
to decide to set his name to it. He knows from 
experience that books are often condemned from dis- 
like for their author, and he also knows that an au- 
thor's reputation gives a value to his work. Hence 
he remains in his present obscurity to secure a freer 
and juster verdict ; nevertheless, he will make himself 
known if this story proves as agreeable to the public 
as he hopes." 

i o Preface. 

la Fayette, and which the worthy gentle- 
man afterward called his " Zai'de," ap- 
parently from an excess of friendly zeal. 
It is, after all, very possible that he may 
have devised the plot of " Zai'de," and 
even that he may have written a few 
pages of the story. It is easy to imagine 
Segrais writing in the romantic style of 
this Spanish story; but it is impossible 
to see what he could have contributed 
to the " Princess of Cleves," the note 
of which is entirely different. Segrais' 
taste always inclined to grace and pretti- 
ness, which certainly are not the char- 
acteristic qualities of the novel of 1678. 
We cannot even be certain that Segrais 
would in his heart have approved so 
simple a tale ; he would have vastly pre- 
ferred " Zai'de," his "Zai'de," with its ab- 
ductions, its shipwrecks, its pirates, its 
gloomy solitudes, where flawless lovers 

Preface. 1 1 

breathed forth their sighs in palaces 
adorned with allegorical paintings. The 
" Princess of Cleves" appeared two years 
after the return of Segrais to Caen, the 
city of his birth. 

The book was doubtless written be- 
fore the academician left Madame de 
la Fayette's house ; but even if he had 
assisted in its preparation, it was not 
his book, it was not his " Princess." As 
for the Duke of La Rochefoucauld, he 
was, as every one knows, the acknowl- 
edged lover of Madame de la Fayette; 
their relations were respected by every 
one, and many things combined to 
diminish the scandal of their intimacy. 
The duke was an old man ; Madame de 
la Fayette was no longer young, and 
had never been beautiful ; they were 
both ill, feeble, almost at the point of 
death. Lastly, he was a prince, and 

1 2 Preface. 

she was very devout. It was a natural 
supposition that they wrote their novels 
together, as Monsieur and Madame Da- 
cier read Greek together. It was also 
known that the duke liked to read 
novels. He used to say, after having 
been loved by Madame de Sable, by Ma- 
dame de Longueville, and by Madame 
de la Fayette, that he had never known 
love outside of the pages of a novel. 
He was credited with a share in the 
" Princess of Cleves " only because it 
was possible that he might have had 
one ; but no one knew how large this 
share was, or even whether there was 
one. For my part, I do not believe that 
he inspired or contributed a line. His 
imagination was powerful, but its flight 
was short ; he grasped at everything, 
but everything slipped through his fin- 
gers. Moreover, he was weary of life; 

Preface. 1 3 

while Madame de la Fayette, although 
she seemed almost at the last gasp, 
never eating or sleeping, parched with 
fever, withered, half dead, was yet very 
active and an indefatigable writer. 
Among other matters which she had 
undertaken, she had for twelve years 
been governing Savoy by letters, as 
the secret agent of the Regent. Huet 
testifies that he saw her write " Zai'de ; " 
Madame de Sevigne, her most intimate 
friend, assigns to her, without a mo- 
ment's hesitation, both the " Princess 
of Montpensier" and the "Princess of 
Cleves ; " and I know no evidence that 
can be urged against this most prob- 
able statement except that of Madame 
de la Fayette herself. 

The relations of Madame de la Fay- 
ette to the little court of Savoy were 
hidden in France from even the most 

14 Preface. 

intimate friends of that lady, and have 
eluded all her biographers. Sainte- 
Beuve himself, who seldom went astray, 
had no suspicion of the political intri- 
gues which played a prominent part in 
a life which he supposed thoroughly 
filled with works of piety, with literature, 
and with an engrossing affection. It 
is not yet twelve years since Monsieur 
A. D. Perrero published the letters 
of Madame de la Fayette which he 
had discovered in the Turin archives. 1 
These letters show us the sedate mis- 
tress of La Rochefoucauld in a new 
light, busier, more interested in poli- 
tics, in statesmanship, than might seem 
desirable. Doubtless she was working 
for France, and asked the most trivial 

1 Lettere inedite di Madame de Lafayette. Torino, 
1880. See, too, the article by Arvede Barine in the 
" Revue des Deux Mondes " for Sept. 15, 1880. 

Preface. 1 5 

rewards for her services ; but it is a sur- 
prise to detect in her such an intriguing 
nature, and we must acknowledge that 
the excellent Madame de Sevigne, who 
called her so candid, did not know her 
at all. I should be unwilling to say 
that Madame de la Fayette was not 
candid, but it is very certain that she 
was extremely reserved and that she 
deceived every one. All who had any- 
thing to do with her imagined her con- 
tinually lost in day-dreams ; they called 
her misty : yet in reality she was most 
precise, most practical. Truthful she 
was, without doubt ; yet there is one 
matter in which it is impossible to 
believe her, and that is when she 
denies having written the " Princess of 

This denial is to be found in a letter, 
written April 13, 1678, to the secre- 

1 6 Preface. 

tary of the Regent of Savoy Les- 
cheraine, with whom the countess was 
carrying on a diplomatic correspon- 
dence. We quote the interesting part 
of this letter : 

" A little book which had some vogue 
fifteen years ago, and which the public was 
pleased to ascribe to me, has earned me the 
title of author of the 'Princess of Cleves.' 
But I assure you that I have had no part in 
it, and that Monsieur de la Rochefoucauld, 
who has also been mentioned, has had as 
little as I. He denies it so strenuously 
that it is impossible not to believe him, 
especially about a matter which can be con- 
fessed without shame. As for me, I am 
flattered at being suspected, and I think I 
should acknowledge the book if I was sure 
that the author would never claim it of me. 
I find it very agreeable, well-written, with- 
out being extremely polished, full of very 
delicate touches, and well worth more than 

Preface. 1 7 

a single reading ; and what I especially no- 
tice is an exact representation of the persons 
composing the court and of their manner 
of life. It is without romanticism and exag- 
geration, and so is not a romance; it is 
more like a book of memoirs, and I hear 
that was the first title of the book; but it 
was changed. There you have my opinion 
on the ' Princess of Cleves ; ' let me ask you 
for yours, for people have almost come to 
blows over it. Many blame what others 
praise ; so, whatever you say, you will not 
find yourself alone in your views." 

This letter makes it clear that Ma- 
dame de la Fayette was averse to hav- 
ing it known, in Savoy at least, that 
she was a writer of books, and that she 
had been so called by Claude Barbin, 
the bookseller of the Palais. With one 
stroke of the pen she disclaims both 
the " Princess of Cleves " and " Zaide," 
which had been published fifteen, or, 

VOL 12 

1 8 Preface. 

more accurately, seventeen years. 1 She 
disavows any share in it, as does Mon- 
sieur de la Rochefoucauld, whose denial 
she mentions. Yet she is far from con- 
demning what she disclaims. She says 
that if the " Princess of Cleves " is not 
by her, she would be glad to have writ- 
ten it, and she is almost tempted to steal 
it from its true author. She praises the 
book more warmly than we should be 
able to do. Save in sincerity, she re- 
minds us of the poor girl who sighed 
and said: "Children are so lovely! What 
a pity that they bring disgrace ! " Did 
Madame de la Fayette look upon the 
" Princess of Cleves " as a charming 
sin, a sweet disgrace ? I should be 
inclined to think that she did. Later, 
Voltaire was to give us many exam- 

1 We have said that "Za'ide " appeared in 1670. It 
was reprinted in 1705 and 1719. 

Preface. 1 9 

pies of disavowals of this sort. But 
Voltaire lied with too much pleasure, 
with an unction that betrayed a natu- 
ral predisposition to falsehood. This 
great enemy of prejudice never hesi- 
tated to employ a lie in the service of 
the truth. Sometimes he lied merely 
for his own pleasure, thereby swerving 
from the precept of a great master of the 
art, Monsieur de Talleyrand, who used 
to say : " Lying is such an excellent 
thing that it should not be abused." 
However that may be, it is easy to 
understand why Voltaire denied this 
or that one of his books. We are 
more surprised by Madame de la Fay- 
ette's disavowal, coming as it does 
from the most " candid " of women, 
and it is not easy to see what were 
her real reasons. Arvede Barine in 
the article in the " Revue des Deux 

2O Preface. 

Mondes " already cited suggests that 
possibly Madame de la Fayette was 
afraid of offending the Regent of Savoy, 
a Princess of Nemours, by acknowl- 
edging herself to be the author of a 
novel in which a Nemours is repre- 
sented as the handsomest man of his 
day, but as thoroughly devoted to 

This would be an excess of scrupu- 
lousness for which there was no occa- 
sion. The Regent, Marie de Nemours, 
commonly called Madame Royale, was 
also notorious for her many love affairs, 
which, indeed, she took no pains to con- 
ceal ; and Monsieur de Nemours would 
no more have shocked her by his con- 
duct than he would have displeased her 
by his appearance. Moreover, even if 
she had assumed a prudery which in 
no way belonged to her, no woman 

Preface. 2 1 

even of excessive religious sensitiveness 
would ever have blushed at having had 
a Nemours in her family. 

I rather incline to think that Madame 
de la Fayette, who took pleasure in writ- 
ing because she wrote well, was unwill- 
ing to be known as an author, especially 
at courts. It was she, we must say, who 
was prudish and pious. Now, about 
1678 women writers enjoyed no very 
high repute. By her epoch and by her 
friendships Madame de la Fayette be- 
longed to the brilliant society of the 
Fronde. Ever since she had been 
Mademoiselle de la Vergne, and showed 
Menage how much more Latin she 
knew than he, the Hotel de Rambouil- 
let had set the fashion for a society 
very eager for fame, and no less criti- 
cal in matters of feeling than in those 
of the intellect. At that time it was 

2 2 Preface. 

customary for women to combine pure 
morals with intellectual brilliancy. To 
be learned was to be virtuous ; and 
wisdom in the ancient sense, as it was 
then understood, implied rhetoric, as- 
tronomy, and chastity. That is the way 
that Mademoiselle de la Vergne under- 
stood it, and she was very anxious to 
be thought learned. After her mar- 


riage, which brought her no happiness, 
she became intimate with the pre- 
cieuses, who dealt in subtilties and 
affected to scorn the pleasures of the 
senses. Then it was that she brought 
out the "Princess of Montpensier; " 
but at that very moment public opinion 
was changing. The new generation 
showed itself severe toward those once 
famous women, and with some rudeness 
ordered them back to their domestic 
duties. The pr'ecieuses were ridiculed 

Preface. 23 

on all sides ; they were attacked by 
Moliere and by the Abbe de Pure at 
the same time. Madame de la Fayette, 
like a discreet woman, concealed her 
Latin and yielded to the new cur- 
rent of thought, although she felt that 

O O 

she had a genius for writing. While 
she risked "ZaTde" in the face of this 
reaction, when even Madeleine de 
Scudery, that illustrious Sappho, passed 
for a tolerably ridiculous person, it 
was with the precautions we have men- 
tioned, and behind the mask of Mon- 
sieur de Segrais. Eighteen years later, 
a woman as sensitive of her reputation 
as was Madame de la Fayette had still 
to be cautious about appearing in print. 
Women who wrote were looked upon 
as improper characters, and not wholly 
without reason. Madame Deshoulieres 
had been loose in her life, Madame de 

24 Preface. 

la Suze still was, and Mademoiselle de 
Villedieu lived with an officer. Learned 
women like Madame de la Sabliere 
made great concessions to the emo- 
tions. Madame de la Fayette was un- 
willing to seem learned, and entered 
the republic of letters only behind a 
triple veil. Besides, she was a woman 
of piety, and belonged to the little co- 
terie of Port Royal, in which novels 
were an abomination. Monsieur Nicole, 
the gentlest of men, said at that time : 
" A writer of novels or plays is a pub- 
lic poisoner, not of men's bodies, but 
of the souls of the faithful ; and he 
ought to look upon himself as guilty 
of numberless spiritual homicides, 
whether, in fact, he has already caused 
them, or only may cause them by his 
pernicious writings." It is plain that 
Madame de la Fayette had, after all, 

Preface. 25 

some reasons for not too openly ac- 
knowledging the " Princess of Cleves." 

The book which appeared in this 
mysterious way was at once success- 
ful. For a whole season every one 
was talking about it. Madame de la 
Fayette scarcely exaggerated when she 
spoke of people " coming to blows " 
about it. Young Valincour, the friend 
of Racine, wrote a criticism of it which 
was ascribed to Father Bouhours, and 
an Abbe de Charmes replied with an 
apology which appeared under the 
name of Barbier d'Aucour. Boursault 
made a tragedy out of it, for in France 
everything that acquires notoriety comes 
at last upon the stage. 

Never was success better deserved. 
Madame de la Fayette was the first to 
introduce naturalness into fiction, the 
first to draw human beings and real 

26 Preface. 

feelings ; and thereby she earned a place 
among the true classics, fitly follow- 
ing Moliere, La Fontaine, Boileau, and 
Racine, who had brought back the 
Muses to nature and truth. " Andro- 
maque " belongs to 1667; the " Princess 
of Cleves" to 1678: modern French 
literature starts from those two dates. 
The " Princess of Cleves " is the first 
French novel in which the interest de- 
pends on the truth of the passions. 

But we must not forget that if this 
novel shows, by the charming simplicity 
of its style and thought, that Racine had 
appeared, introducing Monime and Be- 
renice, yet Madame de la Fayette, by 
the very spirit of her work, belongs to 
the generation of the Fronde and of 
Corneille. She remains heroic in her 
simplicity, and, like the author of 
" Cinna," preserves a proud and noble 

Preface. 2 7 

ideal of life. In the essential points of 
her character her heroine is, like Emilie, 
an "adorable fury," a fury of modesty, 
it may be ; but none the less a few ser- 
pents' heads appear to be concealed in 
her beautiful blond hair. The philoso- 
phy of Madame de la Fayette is like that 
of Corneille, and she held to the past as 
do women no longer young. Racine 
and it was the great success of this 
genius, who was both charming and pow- 
erful represented his tragic heroines 
as pathetic victims of their heart and of 
their senses. Corneille had exalted the 
will to a point of absurdity; Racine 
showed the omnipotence of the passions, 
and, without knowing it, he was in this 
respect the boldest of innovators. He 
introduced into poetry a new, unheard- 
of, profound truth. His contemporaries 
had no very clear vision of this ; even 

28 Preface. 

those who, like Saint-Evremond, were to 
enter most readily into this philosophy, 
were restrained by their literary preju- 
dices. Hence we need not be sur- 
prised that Madame de Sevigne felt a 
frivolous contempt for works so great 
that she was incompetent to understand 
them. Her intimate friend, Madame 
de la Fayette, was far more thoughtful 
and of keener intellect ; she understood 
things whose existence the marchioness 
never even suspected. Nevertheless, in 
her study of the passions she clung, and 
insisted on clinging, to the psychology 
of Corneille and of the precieuses. 
What did she really think ? No one 
will ever know. Her real personality 
was impenetrable ; even her confessor 
did not know her. A prude, pious, 
with a high position at court, I can 
almost suspect her of having doubted of 

Preface. 29 

virtue, of having believed only faintly 
in God, and what was more astonish- 
ing at that period of having hated 
the king. I am convinced that she 
was a great freethinker. She never 
told her secret, not even in the " Prin- 
cess of Cleves." 

I shall not analyze this novel, which 
is familiar even to those who have not 
read it. It is well known that the scene 
is laid in the court of Henri II., but 
that in fact the manners described are 
those, somewhat idealized, of people of 
quality who lived at the same period 
as the author. Writers of the seven- 
teenth century had no true sense of 
the past, and unconsciously delineated 
themselves under ancient or foreign 
names : thus Madame de la Fayette 
with perfect simplicity ascribes to the 
contemporaries of the Valois the Ian- 

30 Preface. 

guage and manners of the courtiers of 
Louis XIV. I do not say that she was 
not familiar with the epoch of the Valois, 
I do say that she but dimly understood 
it ; and we should be glad that she did 
not undertake to describe it, that 
would have been only a work of erudi- 
tion, while, as it was, she gave free play 
to her genius. It is scarcely worth while 
to recall the simple story that is the 
basis of this charming book. Madame 
de Cleves, the most beautiful woman of 
the court, is loved by Monsieur de Ne- 
mours, the most accomplished gentle- 
man of the whole kingdom. Monsieur 
de Nemours, though he had led a life 
of gallantry, becomes timid as soon as 
he is really in love. He hides his pas- 
sion, but Madame de Cleves detects it, 
and involuntarily shares it. To defend 
herself from the danger to which her 

Preface. 3 1 

heart exposes her, she finally decides 
to tell her husband that she loves Mon- 
sieur de Nemours, that she fears him 
and fears herself. Her husband at first 
reassures and consoles her ; but through 
the imprudence and an indiscretion of 
the Duke of Nemours he imagines him- 
self wronged, and dies of grief. His 
widow does not judge that she has there- 
by regained her liberty ; she remains 
faithful to the memory of a husband 
whom she had never lovect. 

That in many ways seems admirable. 
It is true that Madame de Cleves sets a 
high value on virtue, for she does not 
think it is paid too high a price by the 
death of the husband and the despair of 
a lover, taking this last word in the 
sense that it had in the seventeenth 
century. " What do you think of it ? " 
I asked a woman whose honest and in- 

32 Preface. 

telligent mind I admire. This was what 
she was good enough to reply : 

" Except for her preciosity, the Princess of 
Cleves is a true heroine of the Hotel de Ram- 
bouillet. She is divine like Clelie and Arthe- 
nice. Her beauty is unrivalled, her soul 
knows no weakness. But Madame de Cleves 
is no artificial heroine, and the motives that 
inspire her have their roots in reality, and do 
not depend on fiction. Her principles are 
very human, and wholly without any ideal; 
propriety and reason, which are transient 
virtues, control her life and regulate her feel- 
ings. And even more than propriety, the 
notion of her worldly position fills and pro- 
tects her. She has the pr foundest respect 
for appearances, and her aristocratic pride 
mitigates many of her secret sufferings. I 
fancy that to this woman, whose psychology, 
and especially whose moral nature, was so 
much less complicated than ours, the world 
must have seemed like a well-lighted drawing- 

Preface. 33 

room, and that her duty consisted in passing 
through it with dignity and grace; then 
with a majestic courtesy she withdrew, and all 
was over. It is the triumph of etiquette, and 
of etiquette which may amount to heroism ; 
for it sometimes takes more courage and more 
firmness to smile in the midst of a ball than 
on the battle-field. The Princess of Cleves 
possesses that sort of courage, she possesses 
it to such an extent that she forgets herself 
and sacrifices herself; she has no weakness, 
but she also has no pity. She gives over to 
despair and death two men, one of whom at 
least she loves. She has no remorse, because 
she has given no cause for scandal, and noth- 
ing has seriously marred the happy harmony 
of her conduct. She is an excellent example 
of what is produced by very rigid social 
principles and a very severe rule of life with 
nothing higher than these principles. She is 
also an edifying, though discouraging, instance 
of what morality and virtue can do for men's 

happiness. In contrast with this loyal and 
VOL. i. 3 

34 Preface. 

unflinching soul, we recall those other hero- 
ines who were weak, who were guilty, but 
were gentle ; and we ask if, underlying lofty 
virtue, there was not a feeling of pride which 
consoled her for everything, even for the harm 
she wrought." 

Doubtless what is most original in 
the conduct of Madame de Cleves is 
her confession to her husband of her 
love for another man. This cannot be 
regarded as a kind action, for this con- 
fession is the primary cause of the death 
of Monsieur de Cleves. If she had not 
spoken, Monsieur de Cleves would not 
have died ; he would have lived on, tran- 
quilly, happily, in an agreeable delusion : 
but truth was required at all hazards. 
This was also the opinion of a famous 
woman who a hundred years later re- 
peated this confession. Madame Roland, 
when thirty-nine years old, felt " the 

Preface. 35 

strong affections of a powerful mind con- 
trolling a robust body." The man she 
loved had, like her, a lofty feeling of duty. 
He was the Deputy Buzot. They loved, 
but that was all. Madame Roland had 
a husband twenty years older than she, 
and decrepit. She thought it her duty, 
following the example of Madame de 
Cleves, to confess to him that she loved 
another man ; but the confession once 
made, this half-dead husband could not 
take it tragically, so that perhaps in this 
respect Madame Roland will seem less 
imprudent than Madame de Cleves. 
In spite of that, she had no reason to 
be satisfied with her confession of the 
state of affairs to him, as she acknowl- 
edges in her Memoirs : 

" I honor and cherish my husband as an 
affectionate daughter adores a virtuous father 
for whom she would sacrifice even a lover; 

36 Preface. 

but I have found the man who might be this 
lover, and while I remained faithful to my 
duties my ingenuity has not been able to hide 
the feelings that I sacrificed to them. My 
husband, whose susceptibility and self-love 
were both easily roused, could not endure the 
idea of the slightest modification in sway ; he 
imagined dark things ; his jealousy annoyed 
me ; happiness fled far from us. He adored 
me ; I sacrificed myself to him, and we were 
wretched. Were I free, I would follow him 
anywhere, to soothe his sufferings and to 
console his old age : a soul like mine is 
contented with no imperfect sacrifice. But 
Roland detests the thought of a sacrifice ; and 
having once perceived that I am making one 
for him, the knowledge destroys all his hap- 
piness. It pains him to receive such a sacri- 
fice, and yet he cannot do without it." 

Roland did not die of this. Every 
one says that he was sublime ; and he 
promised some time to make way for 

Preface. 37 

the man who was loved, if his wife's 
new affection should continue. Ma- 
dame Roland was also sublime, and 
refused to hear of this generous sacri- 
fice. But sublime as they were, they 
quarrelled and grew more bitter. The 
household was most unhappy when the 
3ist of May brought them other cares, 
and swept away their domestic bicker- 
ings in the public disaster. 

So far as I know, the cruel frank- 
ness of Madame de Cleves has been 
imitated by no other woman than 
Madame Roland. I do not dare to 
say that this is to be regretted ; but 
however it may be, we must in jus- 
tice remember that for acting as she 
did, Madame Roland had not such 
good reasons as Madame de Cleves. 
Madame de Cleves when she confided 
in her husband asked for his aid in 

38 Preface. 

her distress, she implored his support; 
Madame Roland merely wanted to ex- 
pose her passion, and those are two 
very different things. As for Madame 
de la Fayette, she was so delighted 
with these tragic confessions that she 
afterward wrote a novel simply to show 
another woman making the same con- 
fession under still more painful circum- 
stances ; for she is guilty, and confesses 
to her husband that she has deceived 
him. The Countess of Tende, who 
takes her husband for the confidant of 
her weaknesses, outdoes even Madame 
Roland in heroic sincerity. 

She is another candid woman. It 
is amusing that these candid women 
should have sprung from the imagina- 
tion of a woman who never confessed 
even to her confessor. 


Preface. 39 

P. S. I thought that I had kept within 
bounds, that I had justly admired the " Prin- 
cess of Cleves " and justly esteemed Madame 
de la Fayette ; but justice is not everything. 
To a masterpiece, to a woman, something 
besides justice is due, and I became uneasy. 
I feared that I had been deficient in that 
politeness, that courtesy, without which even 
the belles-lettres remain rude and unpol- 
ished. Hence, remembering that Auguste 
Comte had admitted the "Princess of Cleves" 
into the Positivist Library, I took the lib- 
erty of asking the heir of the founder, the 
venerable leader of the Positivists, to be good 
enough to write for me a few words about 
this princess, which he admires, as I know, 
with an intelligent fervor. Monsieur Pierre 
Laffitte was kind enough to reply; and here 
is his letter, which will correct my preface. 
This letter is just what I expected from a 
philosopher animated, like the ancient Epicu- 
rus, by an ardent enthusiasm for reason. 

4O Preface. 

PARIS, December 28, 1888. 
[28 Bichat, too Gall ] 

see that you have written about the " Princess of 
Cleves," and I am sure that you will not take amiss 
a few observations, not on its literary qualities, for 
there would be but little propriety in my addressing 
you on this score, but merely on the state of mind 
which this masterpiece indicates, all the more 
that it does this without premeditation. 

What has always struck me in reading this dis- 
tinguished product of the female mind is the 
complete absence of everything supernatural. The 
name of God is not once mentioned ; and yet the 
inner working of human life, and more especially 
of a woman's life, is portrayed without any appear- 
ance of strangeness or want of logic ; and that is so 
true that no one before me, so far as I know, has 
ever noticed this absence of God. Read more 
particularly that wonderful discussion in which 
Madame de Cleves sets forth her reasons for refus- 
ing to marry Monsieur de Nemours. The reasons 
influencing her in forming this most important 
decision are all of a perfectly natural sort ; she 

Preface. 4 1 

succeeds in overcoming a deep and lawful attach- 
ment by delicate and wise motives. The absence 
of the supernatural is all the more striking here, 
from the fact that human motives assure the supe- 
riority of reason over the passions, and not their 
mere brutal victory. 

It is evident that a work of this sort portrays 
a new state of mental equilibrium attained by a 
woman, it is true, by a very superior woman, 
in whom life is controlled by the appreciation of 
the consequences of our actions, without thought 
of any supernatural interference. Women of a rare 
type have reached this lofty state, in which life 
has become wise, dignified, and delicate, void of 
fear as well as of what, for the sake of politeness, 
I will not call a chimerical, but at least a doubt- 
ful, hope. For this is not peculiar to Madame 
de la Fayette ; read Madame de Lambert's "Advice 
to my Son," and you will see that, with the excep- 
tion of a few formulas of politeness toward God, 
every motive for living with dignity is of a human 
sort. Is not this a practical demonstration of the 
possibility of conceiving of a life, not only honor- 
able but lofty and delicate, by considerations of a 

42 Preface. 

merely natural order? The demonstration is all 
the more striking because it is in no way systema- 
tic, no attempt is made to prove anything ; it is 
merely described. The slow evolution of human- 
ity has produced such a condition in superior 
souls, which, after all, are only in advance of the 
rest ; the systematization will follow later. 

Doubtless I shall be told that the supernatural 
scaffolding was necessary at first. I grant it ; 
but they at least have succeeded in doing without 
it. Thus man does not really belong to the ani- 
mal kingdom. This becomes serious in large 
societies ; consequently, the leaders of our race 
sought at first to provide against it. But they 
had to invoke both a God and a Devil to per- 
suade men to act nobly. At the present time 
the West gets along without fear of hell or hope 
of paradise. Why may not the evolution accom- 
plished by civilized peoples in a simple case be 
also attained in more complicated cases? The 
" Princess of Cleves " furnishes us with the demon- 
stration, not by scholastic rules, but by a living 
figure, in an aesthetic masterpiece ; and this ab- 
sence of God helps to portray the final victory 

Preface. 43 

of reason over passion, which is the normal type 
of our species. 

But let us consider the opposite opinion, and 
by discussing art, not science. Jean- Jacques 
Rousseau, in a period of reaction, introduced 
God again ; read the " Nouvelle Heloise," and see 
what a part he makes him play there : it must 
be said, with all possible politeness, that it is a 
sorry one. God intervenes to justify tender weak- 
nesses, or at least to accept them with a smiling 
tolerance. And in the nineteenth century how 
this tendency has developed ! In George Sand, 
when women wish to yield gracefully, God is 
always there to make things easy for them. He 
has to play a singular part. We are very far from 
those momentous decisions in which the soul 
exercises control, such as Madame de la Fayette 
described with a thorough knowledge of human 

On the whole, the " Princess of Cleves " seems to 
me the most perfect work that ever issued from 
a woman's hand. She did not try works of vast 
strength in any direction, but in her own field 
Madame de la Fayette had complete mastery. 

44 Preface. 

Her book will be read so long as there shall sur- 
vive men of taste and intelligence ; it is a pleas- 
ure to feel one's self m communion with the 
chosen spirits who, since the seventeenth century, 
have enjoyed this delightful masterpiece, and 
to think of the others who, after us, will still 
enjoy it. 




r I "HERE never was in France so brilliant 
a display of magnificence and gal- 
lantry as during the last years of the reign of 
Henri II. This monarch was gallant, hand- 
some, and susceptible; although his love for 
Diane de Poitiers, Duchess of Valentinois, 
had lasted twenty years, its ardor had not 
diminished, as his conduct testified. 

He was remarkably skilful in physical ex- 
ercises, and devoted much attention to them ; 
every day was filled with hunting and tennis, 

48 The Princess of Cleves. 

dancing, running at the ring, and sports of 
that kind. The favorite colors and the 
initials of Madame de Valentinois were to be 
seen everywhere, and she herself used to 
appear dressed as richly as Mademoiselle de 
la Marck, her granddaughter, who was then 
about to be married. 

The fact that the queen was there, accounted 
for her presence. This princess, although she 
had passed her first youth, was still beautiful ; 
she was fond of splendor, magnificence, and 
pleasure. The king had married her while 
still Duke of Orleans, in the lifetime of his 
elder brother, the dauphin, who afterward 
died at Tournon, mourned as a worthy heir 
to the position of Francis I., his father. 

The queen's ambition made her like to 
reign. She seemed indifferent to the king's 
attachment to the Duchess of Valentinois, 
and never betrayed any jealousy; but she 
was so skilled a dissembler that it was hard 
to discover her real feelings, and she was 
compelled by policy to keep the duchess 

The Princess of Cloves. 49 

near her if she wanted to see anything of the 
king. As for him, he liked the society of 
women, even of those with whom he was not 
at all in love. He was with the queen every 
day at her audience, when all the most at- 
tractive lords and ladies were sure to appear. 
At no court had there ever been gathered 
together so many lovely women and brave 
men. It seemed as if Nature had made an 
effort to show her highest beauty in the 
greatest lords and ladies. Madame Elisa- 
beth of France, afterwards queen of Spain, 
began to show her wonderful intelligence 
and that unrivalled beauty which was so 
fatal to her. Mary Stuart, the queen of 
Scotland, who had just married the dauphin 
and was called the crown princess, or dau- 
phiness, was faultless in mind and body. 
She had been brought up at the French 
court and had acquired all its polish; she 
was endowed by Nature with so strong a 
love for the softer graces that in spite of her 
youth she admired and understood them 

VOL. I. 4 

50 The Princess of Cleves. 

perfectly. Her mother-in-law, the queen, 
and Madame, the king's sister, were also fond 
of poetry, of comedy, and of music. The 
interest which King Francis I. had felt in 
poetry and letters still prevailed in France, 
and since the king, his son, was devoted to 
physical exercise, pleasures of all sorts were 
to be found at the court. But what rendered 
the court especially fine and majestic was the 
great number of princes and lords of excep- 
tional merit ; those I am about to name were, 
in their different ways, the ornament and the 
admiration of their age. 

The King of Navarre inspired universal re- 
spect by his exalted rank and his royal 
bearing. He excelled in the art of war; but 
the Duke of Guise had shown himself so 
strong a rival that he had often laid aside his 
command to enter the duke's service as a 
private soldier in the most dangerous battles. 
This duke had manifested such admirable 
bravery with such remarkable success that 
he was an object of envy to every great 

The Princess of Cleves. 51 

commander. He had many conspicuous 
qualities besides his personal courage, he 
possessed a vast and profound intelligence, 
a noble, lofty mind, and equal capacity for 
war and affairs. His brother, the Cardinal 
of Lorraine, was born with an unbridled am- 
bition, and had acquired vast learning; this he 
turned to his profit by using it in defence of 
Catholicism, which had begun to be attacked. 
The Chevalier de Guise, afterwards known 
as the Grand Prior, was loved by all ; he was 
handsome, witty, clever, and his courage was 
renowned throughout Europe. The short, 
ill-favored body of the Prince of Conde held 
a great and haughty soul, and an intelligence 
that endeared him to even the most beautiful 
women. The Duke of Nevers, famous for 
his military prowess and his important ser- 
vices to the state, though somewhat advanced 
in years was adored by all the court. He had 
three handsome sons, the second, known as 
the Prince of Cleves, was worthy to bear that 
proud title; he was brave and grand, and 

52 The Princess of Cloves. 

was withal endowed with a prudence rare in 
the young. The Vidame of Chartres, a scion 
of the old house of Vend6me, a name not de- 
spised by princes of the blood, had won equal 
triumphs in war and gallantry ; he was hand- 
some, attractive, brave, hardy, generous ; all 
his good qualities were distinct and striking, 
in short, he was the only man fit to be com- 
pared, if such comparison be possible, with 
the Duke of Nemours. This nobleman was 
a masterpiece of Nature ; the least of his fas- 
cinations was his extreme beauty; he was the 
handsomest man in the world. What made 
him superior to every one else was his un- 
rivalled courage and a charm manifested in 
his mind, his expression, and his actions, 
such as no other showed. He possessed a 
certain playfulness that was equally attractive 
to men and women ; he was unusually skil- 
ful in physical exercises; and he dressed in 
a way that every one tried in vain to imi- 
tate ; moreover, his bearing was such that all 
eyes followed him wherever he appeared. 

The Princess of C I eves. 53 

There was no lady in the court who would 
not have been flattered by his attentions; 
few of those to whom he had devoted himself 
could boast of having resisted him ; and even 
many in whom he had shown no interest 
made very clear their affection for him. He 
was so gentle and courteous that he could 
not refuse some attentions to those who tried 
to please him, hence he had many mis- 
tresses; but it was hard to say whom he 
really loved. He was often to be seen with 
the dauphiness; her beauty, her gentleness, 
her desire to please every one, and the es- 
pecial regard she showed for this prince, 
made some imagine that he dared to raise 
his eyes to her. The Guises, whose niece 
she was, had acquired influence and position 
by her marriage ; they aspired to an equality 
with the princes of the blood and to a share 
of the power exercised by the Constable of 
Montmorency. It was to the constable that 
the king confided the greater part of the cares 
of state, while he treated the Duke of Guise 

54 The Princess of C I eves. 

and the Marshal of Saint-Andre as his favor- 
ites. But those attached to his person by 
favor or position could only keep their place 
by submitting to the Duchess of Valentinois, 
who, although no longer young or beautiful, 
ruled him so despotically that she may be 
said to have been the mistress of his person 
and of the state. 

The king had always loved the constable, 
and at the beginning of his reign had sum- 
moned him from the exile into which he 
had been sent by Francis I. The court 
was divided between the Guises and the 
constable, who was the favorite of the 
princes of the blood. Both parties had 
always struggled for the favor of the 
Duchess of Valentinois. The Duke of Au- 
male, brother of the Duke of Guise, had 
married one of her daughters. The con- 
stable aspired to the same alliance, not sat- 
isfied with having married his eldest son to 
Madame Diane, a daughter of the king by 
a lady of Piedmont who entered a convent 

The Princess of Cleves. 55 

after the birth of her child. The promises 
which Monsieur de Montmorency had made 
to Mademoiselle de Piennes, one of the 
queen's maids-of-honor, had proved a seri- 
ous obstacle to this match ; and although 
the king had removed it with extreme pa- 
tience and kindness, the constable still felt 
insecure until he had won over the Duchess 
of Valentinois and had separated her from 
the Guises, whose greatness had begun to 
alarm her. She had delayed in every way 
in her power the marriage between the 
dauphin and the Queen of Scotland; this 
young queen's beauty and intelligence, and 
the position given to the Guises by this mar- 
riage, were very odious to her. She espe- 
cially detested the Cardinal of Lorraine, who 
had addressed her in bitter, even contemptu- 
ous terms. She saw that he was intriguing 
with the queen ; hence the constable found her 
ready to join forces with him by bringing about 
the marriage of Mademoiselle de la Marck, 
her granddaughter, to Monsieur d'Anville, 

56 The Princess of Cleves. 

his second son, who succeeded to his post 
in the reign of Charles IX. The constable 
did not expect that Monsieur d'Anville would 
have any objections to this marriage, as had 
been the case with Monsieur de Montmo- 
rency ; but though the reasons were more 
hidden, the difficulties were no less obstinate. 
Monsieur d'Anville was desperately in love 
with the crown princess; and although his 
passion was hopeless, he could not persuade 
himself to contract other ties. The Marshal 
of Saint-Andre" was almost the only courtier 
who had taken sides with neither faction ; 
he was one of the favorites, but this position 
he held simply by his own merits. Ever 
since he had been the dauphin, the king 
had been attached to this nobleman, and later 
had made him marshal of France, at an age 
when men are satisfied with lesser honors. 
His advance gave him a distinction which 
he maintained by his personal worth and 
charm, by a costly table and rich surround- 
ings, and by more splendor than any private 

The Princess of Cloves. 57 

individual had yet displayed. The king's 
generosity warranted this sumptuousness. 
There was no limit to this monarch's gen- 
erosity to those he loved. He did not pos- 
sess every great quality, but he had many, 
and among them the love of war and a 
good knowledge of it. This accounted for 
his many successes ; and if we except the 
battle of St. Quentin, his reign was an un- 
broken series of victories. He had won the 
battle of Renty in person, Piedmont had 
been conquered, the English had been 
driven from France, and the Emperor 
Charles V. had seen his good fortune desert 
him before the city of Metz, which he had 
besieged in vain with all the forces of the 
Empire and of Spain. Nevertheless, since 
the defeat of St. Quentin had diminished our 
hope of conquest, and fortune seemed to 
favor one king as much as the other, they 
were gradually led to favor peace. 

The Dowager Duchess of Lorraine had be- 
gun to lead the way to a cessation of hos- 

58 The Princess of Cloves. 

tilities at the time of the dauphin's marriage, 
and ever since then there had been secret 
negotiations. At last Cercamp, in the Pro- 
vince of Artois, was chosen as the place of 
meeting. The Cardinal of Lorraine, the 
constable, and the Marshal of Saint-Andre 
appeared in behalf of the King of France ; 
the Duke of Alvaand the Prince of Orange in 
behalf of Philip II. The Duke and Duchess 
of Lorraine were the mediators. The leading 
articles were the marriage of Madame Elisa- 
beth of France to Don Carlos, Infanta of 
Spain, and that of Madame, the king's sister, 
with Monsieur de Savoie. 

Meanwhile the king remained on the fron- 
tier, and there heard of the death of Mary, 
queen of England. He sent the Count of 
Randan to Elizabeth to congratulate her on 
ascending the throne. She was very glad to 
receive him, because her rights were so inse- 
cure that it was of great service to her to 
have them acknowledged by the king. The 
count found her well informed about the 

The Princess of Cleves. 59 

interests of France and the capabilities of 
those who composed the court, but especially 
familiar with the reputation of the Duke of 
Nemours. She spoke of this nobleman so 
often and with such warmth that when Mon- 
sieur de Randan returned and recounted his 
journey to the king, he told him that there 
was nothing to which Monsieur de Nemours 
could not aspire, and that she would be 
capable of marrying him. That very eve- 
ning the king spoke to this nobleman, and 
made Monsieur de Randan repeat to him 
his conversation with Elizabeth, urging him 
to essay this great fortune. At first Mon- 
sieur de Nemours thought that the king was 
jesting; but when he saw his mistake he 

" At any rate, sire, if I undertake a fan- 
tastic enterprise under the advice and in 
behalf of your Majesty, I beg of you to 
keep it secret until success shall justify me 
before the public, and to guard me from 
appearing vain enough to suppose that a 

60 The Princess of Cloves. 

queen who has never seen me should wish 
to marry me from love." 

The king promised to speak of the plan 
to no one but the constable, and agreed 
that secrecy was essential for its success. 
Monsieur de Randan advised Monsieur de 
Nemours to visit England as a simple trav- 
eller; but the latter could not make up his 
mind to do this. He sent Lignerolles, an in- 
telligent young man, one of his favorites, 
to ascertain the queen's feeling and to try 
to open the matter. Meanwhile he went to 
see the Duke of Savoy, who was then at 
Brussels with the King of Spain. The death 
of Mary of England raised great obstacles to 
any treaty of peace ; the commission broke 
up at the end of November, and the king 
returned to Paris. 

At that moment there appeared at court a 
young lady to whom all eyes were turned, and 
we may well believe that she was possessed of 
faultless beauty, since she aroused admiration 
where all were well accustomed to the sight 

The Princess of Cloves. 61 

of handsome women. Of the same family 
as the Vidame of Chartres, she was one of 
the greatest heiresses in France. Her father 
had died young, leaving her under the charge 
of his wife, Madame de Chartres, whose 
kindness, virtue, and worth were beyond 
praise. After her husband's death she had 
withdrawn from court for many years ; during 
this period she had devoted herself to the 
education of her daughter, not merely culti- 
vating her mind and her beauty, but also 
seeking to inspire her with the love of virtue 
and to make her attractive. Most mothers 
imagine that it is enough never to speak of 
gallantry to their daughters to guard them 
from it forever. Madame de Chartres was 
of a very different opinion ; she often drew 
pictures of love to her daughter, showing 
her its fascinations, in order to give her a 
better understanding of its perils. She told 
her how insincere men are, how false and de- 
ceitful ; she described the domestic miseries 
which illicit love-affairs entail, and, on the 

62 The Princess of Cloves. 

other hand, pictured to her the peaceful hap- 
piness of a virtuous woman's life, as well as 
the distinction and elevation which virtue 
gives to a woman of rank and beauty. She 
taught her, too, how hard it was to preserve 
this virtue without extreme care, and with- 
out that one sure means of securing a wife's 
happiness, which is to love her husband and 
to be loved by him. 

This heiress was, then, one of the greatest 
matches in France, and although she was 
very young, many propositions of marriage 
had been made to her. Madame de Chartres, 
who was extremely proud, found almost 
nothing worthy of her daughter, and the 
girl being in her sixteenth year, she was 
anxious to take her to court. The Vidame 
went to welcome her on her arrival, and 
was much struck by the marvellous beauty 
of Mademoiselle de Chartres, and with 
good reason : her delicate complexion 
and her blond hair gave her a unique bril- 
liancy; her features were regular, and her 

The Princess of C I eves. 63 

face and person were full of grace and 

The day after her arrival she went to match 
some precious stones at the house of an 
Italian who dealt in them. He had come 
from Florence with the queen, and had 
grown so rich by his business that his 
house seemed that of some great nobleman 
rather than of a merchant. The Prince of 
Cleves happened to come in while she was 
there ; he was so struck by her beauty that 
he could not conceal his surprise, and Made- 
moiselle de Chartres could not keep from 
blushing when she saw his astonishment: she 
succeeded, however, in regaining her com- 
posure without paying any further atten- 
tion to the prince than civility required for a 
man of his evident importance. Monsieur de 
Cleves gazed at her admiringly, wondering 
who this beauty was whom he did not know. 
He perceived from her bearing and her suite 
that she must be a lady of high rank. She 
was so young that he thought she must be 

64 The Princess of Cleves. 

unmarried; but since she had not her 
mother with her, and the Italian, who did 
not know her, addressed her as " madame," 
he was in great doubt, and stared at her 
with continual surprise. He saw that his 
glances embarrassed her, unlike most young 
women, who always take pleasure in seeing 
the effect of their beauty ; it even seemed to 
him that his presence made her anxious to 
go away, and in fact she left very soon. Mon- 
sieur de Cleves consoled himself for her de- 
parture with the hope of finding out who she 
was, and was much disappointed to learn 
that no one knew. He was so struck by her 
beauty and evident modesty that from that 
moment he conceived for her the greatest 
love and esteem. That evening he called 
on Madame, the king's sister. 

This princess was held in high esteem on 
account of her influence with the king, her 
brother; and this influence was so great that 
when the king made peace he consented to 
restore Piedmont to enable her to marry 

The Princess of Cleves. 65 

Monsieur de Savoie. Although she had 
always meant to marry, she had determined 
to give her hand to none but a sovereign, 
and had for that reason refused the King of 
Navarre when he was Duke of Vend6me, and 
had always felt an interest in Monsieur de 
Savoie after seeing him at Nice on the oc- 
casion of the interview between Francis I. 
and Pope Paul III. Since she possessed 
great intelligence and a fine taste, she drew 
pleasant persons about her, and at certain 
hours the whole court used to visit her. 

Thither Monsieur de Cleves went, as was 
his habit. He was so full of the wit and 
beauty of Mademoiselle de Chartres that he 
could speak of nothing else ; he talked freely 
of his adventure, and set no limit to his praise 
of the young woman he had seen but did not 
know. Madame said to him that there was 
no such person as he described, and that if 
there were, every one would have known 
about her. Madame de Dampierre, her lady- 
in-waiting and a friend of Madame de Chartres, 
VOL. i. 5 

66 The Princess of Cleves. 

when she heard the conversation moved near 
the princess and said to her in a low voice that 
doubtless it was Mademoiselle de Chartres 
whom Monsieur de Cleves had seen. Madame 
turned towards him and said that if he would 
return the next day, she would show him this 
beauty who had so impressed him. Made- 
moiselle de Chartres made her appearance the 
next day. The queen received her with every 
imaginable attention, and she was greeted with 
such admiration by every one that she heard 
around her nothing but praise. This she re- 
ceived with such noble modesty that she 
seemed not to hear it, or at least not to be 
affected by it. Then she visited the apart- 
ments of Madame, the king's sister. The 
princess, after praising her beauty, told her 
the surprise she had given to Monsieur 
de Cleves. A moment after, that person 

" Come," she said to him, " see if I have 
not kept my word, and if, when I point out 
Mademoiselle de Chartres to you, I do not 

The Princess of Cleves. 67 

show you the beauty you sought; at any 
rate, thank me for telling her how much 
you already admire her." 

Monsieur de Cleves was filled with joy to 
find that this young woman whom he had 
found so attractive was of a rank proportionate 
to her beauty. He went up to her and asked 
her to remember that he had been the first to 
admire her, and that without knowing her 
he had felt all the respect and esteem that 
were her due. 

The Chevalier de Guise, his friend, and he 
left the house together. At first they praised 
Mademoiselle de Chartres without stint ; then 
they found that they were praising her too 
much, and both stopped saying what they 
thought of her: but they were compelled to 
talk about her on the following days wherever 
they met. This new beauty was for a long 
time the general subject of conversation. 
The queen praised her warmly and showed 
an extraordinary regard for her; the dau- 
phiness made her one of her favorites, and 

68 T/ie Princess of Cleves. 

begged Madame de Chartres to bring her to 
see her very often ; the daughters of the 
king invited her to all their entertainments, 
in short, she was loved and admired by the 
whole court, except by Madame de Valen- 
tinois. It was not that this new beauty gave 
her any uneasiness, her long experience 
had made her sure of the king, but she so 
hated the Vidame of Chartres, whom she had 
desired to ally with herself by the marriage 
of one of her daughters, while he had joined 
the queen's party, that she could not look 
with favor on any one who bore his name 
and seemed to enjoy his friendship. 

The Prince of Cloves fell passionately in 
love with Mademoiselle de Chartres, and was 
eager to marry her; but he feared lest the 
pride of Madame de Chartres should prevent 
her from giving her daughter to a man who 
was not the eldest of his family. Yet this 
family was so distinguished, and the Count 
of Eu, who was the head of the house, had 
just married a woman so near to royalty, that 

The Princess of Cloves. 69 

it was timidity rather than any true reason 
that inspired the fear of Monsieur de Cleves. 
He had many rivals ; the Chevalier de Guise 
seemed to him the most formidable, on 
account of his birth, his ability, and the 
brilliant position of his family. This prince 
had fallen in love with Mademoiselle de 
Chartres the first day he saw her; he had 
noticed the passion of Monsieur de Cleves 
just as the latter had noticed his. Though 
the two men were friends, the separation 
which resulted from this rivalry gave them 
no chance to explain themselves, and their 
friendship cooled without their having cour- 
age to come to an understanding. The 
good fortune of Monsieur de Cleves in 
being the first to see Mademoiselle de 
Chartres seemed to him a happy omen, and 
to promise him some advantage over his 
rivals ; but he foresaw serious obstacles on 
the part of the Duke of Nevers, his father. 
This duke was bound to the Duchess of 
Valentinois by many ties ; she was an 

70 The Princess of Cleves. 

enemy of the Vidame, and this was reason 
enough to prevent the Duke of Nevers from 
consenting that his son should think of that 
nobleman's niece. 

Madame de Chartres, who had already 
taken such pains to fill her daughter with a 
love of virtue, did not remit them in this 
place where they were still so necessary, and 
bad examples were so frequent. Ambi- 
tion and gallantry were the sole occupation 
of the court, busying men and women alike. 
There were so many interests and so many 
different intrigues in which women took part 
that love was always mingled with politics, 
and politics with love. No one was calm 
or indifferent; every one sought to rise, to 
please, to serve, or to injure; no one was 
weary or idle, every one was taken up with 
pleasure or intrigue. The ladies had their 
special interest in the queen, in the crown 
princess, in the Queen of Navarre, in Madame 
the king's sister, or in the Duchess of Va- 
lentinois, according to their inclinations, their 

The Princess of Cloves. 71 

sense of right, or their humor. Those who 
had passed their first youth and assumed 
an austere virtue, were devoted to the queen ; 
those who were younger and sought pleasure 
and gallantry, paid their court to the crown 
princess. The Queen of Navarre had her 
favorites; she was young, and had much 
influence over her husband the king, who 
was allied with the constable, and hence 
highly esteemed. Madame the king's sister 
still preserved some of her beauty, and 
gathered several ladies about herself. The 
Duchess of Valentinois was sought by all 
those whom she deigned to regard ; but the 
women she liked were few, and with the 
exception of those who enjoyed her inti- 
macy and confidence, and whose disposi- 
tion bore some likeness to her own, she 
received only on the days when she as- 
sumed to hold a court like the queen. 

All these different cliques were separated 
by rivalry and envy. Then, too, the women 
who belonged to each one of them were 

72 The Princess of Cloves. 

also jealous of one another, either about their 
chances of advancement, or about their lov- 
ers; often their interests were complicated 
by other pettier, but no less important ques- 
tions. Hence there was in this court a sort 
of well-ordered agitation, which rendered it 
very charming, but also very dangerous, for 
a young woman. Madame de Chartres saw 
this peril, and thought only of protecting 
her daughter from it. She besought her, 
not as a mother, but as a friend, to confide 
to her all the sweet speeches that might 
be made to her, and promised her aid in 
all those matters which so often embarrass 
the young. 

The Chevalier de Guise made his feelings for 
Mademoiselle de Chartres and his intentions 
so manifest that every one could see them; 
yet he well knew the very grave difficulties 
that stood in his way. He was aware that 
he was not a desirable match, because his 
fortune was too small for his rank. He knew, 
too, that his brothers would disapprove of his 

The Princess of Cleves. .73 

marrying, through fear of the loss of posi- 
tion which sometimes befalls great families 
through the marriage of younger sons. The 
Cardinal of Lorraine soon proved to him 
that his fears were well grounded, for he de- 
nounced the chevalier's love for Mademoiselle 
de Chartres very warmly, though he concealed 
his true reasons. The cardinal nourished a 
hatred for the Vidame, which was hidden at 
the time, and only broke out later. He 
would have preferred to see his brother ally 
himself with any other family than that of 
the Vidame, and gave such public expression 
to his dislike that Madame de Chartres was 
plainly offended. She took great pains to 
show that the Cardinal of Lorraine had no 
cause for fear, and that she herself never con- 
templated the match. The Vidame adopted 
the same course, and with a better under- 
standing of the cardinal's objection, because 
he knew the underlying reason. 

The Prince of Cleves had concealed his 
passion quite as little as had the Chevalier de 

74 The Princess of Cleves. 

Guise. The Duke of Nevers was sorry to 
hear of this attachment, but thought that his 
son would forget it at a word from him ; 
great was his surprise when he found him 
determined to marry Mademoiselle de Char- 
tres. He opposed this determination with 
a warmth so ill concealed that the whole 
court soon had wind of it, and it came to 
the knowledge of her mother. She had 
never doubted that Monsieur de Nevers 
would regard this match as an advantageous 
one for his son, and was much surprised that 
both the house of Cleves and that of Guise 
dreaded the alliance instead of desiring it. 
She was so chagrined that she sought to 
marry her daughter to some one who could 
raise her above those who fancied them- 
selves superior to her; and after carefully 
going over the ground, pitched on the prince 
dauphin, the son of the Duke of Montpen- 
sier. He was of the right age to marry, and 
held the highest position at court. Since 
Madame de Chartres was a very clever 

The Princess of Cleves. 75 

woman, and was aided by the Vidame, 
who at that time had great influence, while 
her daughter was in every way a good 
match, she played her cards so cleverly and 
successfully that Monsieur de Montpensier 
appeared to desire the marriage, and it 
seemed as if nothing could stand in its 

The Vidame, though aware of Monsieur 
d'Anville's devotion to the crown princess, 
still thought that he might make use of the in- 
fluence which she had over him to induce him 
to speak well of Mademoiselle de Chartres to 
the king and to the Prince of Montpensier, 
whose intimate friend he was. He men- 
tioned this to the princess, who took up the 
matter eagerly, since it promised advance- 
ment to a young woman of whom she had be- 
come very fond. This she told the Vidame, 
assuring him that though she knew she 
should offend her uncle, the Cardinal of 
Lorraine, this would be no objection, be- 
cause she had good grounds for disliking 

7 6 The Princess of C I eves. 

him, since he every day furthered the 
queen's interests in opposition to her own. 

Persons in love are always glad of any ex- 
cuse for talking about the object of their 
affection. As soon as the Vidame had gone, 
the crown princess ordered Chatelart, the 
favorite of Monsieur d'Anville and the confi- 
dant of his love for her, to tell him to be at the 
queen's reception that evening. Chatelart 
received this command with great delight. 
He belonged to a good family of Dauphin6, 
but his merit and intelligence had raised him 
to a higher place than his birth warranted. 
He was received and treated with kindness 
by all the great lords at the court, and the 
favor of the family of Montmorency had at- 
tached him especially to Monsieur d'Anville. 
He was handsome and skilled in all physical 
exercises; he sang agreeably, wrote verses, 
and had a gallant, ardent nature, which so at- 
tracted Monsieur d'Anville that he made him 
a confidant of his love for the crown princess. 
The confidence brought him into the society 

The Princess of C lives. 77 

of that lady, and thus began that unhappy 
passion, which robbed him of his reason and 
finally cost him his life. 

Monsieur d'Anville did not fail to make 
his appearance that evening in the queen's 
drawing-room ; he was pleased that the 
dauphiness had chosen him to aid her, and 
he promised faithfully to obey her commands. 
But Madame de Valentinois had heard of the 
contemplated marriage and had laid her 
plans to thwart it; she had been so success- 
ful in arousing the king's opposition that 
when Monsieur d'Anville spoke of it, he 
showed his disapproval, and commanded him 
to apprise the Prince of Montpensier of it. 
It is easy to imagine the feelings of Ma- 
dame de Chartres at the failure of a plan 
she had so much desired, especially when her 
ill-success gave so great an advantage to 
her enemies and did so much harm to her 

The crown princess kindly expressed to 
Mademoiselle de Chartres her regrets at not 

78 The Princess of Cleves. 

being able to further her interests. " You 
see," she said, " I have but very little 
power; I am so detested by the queen and 
the Duchess of Valentinois that they or 
their attendants always oppose everything 
I desire. Still," she added, " I have always 
tried to please them, and they hate me only 
on account of my mother, who used to fill 
them with uneasiness and jealousy. The 
king had been in love with her before 
he loved Madame de Valentinois, and 
in his early married life, before he had 
any children, though he loved this duchess, 
he seemed bent on dissolving that marriage 
to marry the queen my mother. Madame 
de Valentinois dreaded the woman he had 
loved so well, lest her wit and beauty should 
diminish her own power, and entered into an 
alliance with the constable, who was also op- 
posed to the king's marrying a sister of the 
Guises. They won over the late king; and 
though he hated the Duchess of Valentinois 
as much as he loved the queen, he joined with 

The Princess of Cloves. 79 

them in preventing the king from dissolving 
his marriage. In order to make this impos- 
sible, they arranged my mother's marriage 
with the King of Scotland, whose first wife 
had been Madame Magdeleine, the king's 
sister, this they did because it was the first 
thing that offered; though they broke the 
promises that had been made to the King of 
England, who was deeply in love with her. 
In fact, this matter nearly caused a falling 
out between the two kings. Henry VIII. 
could not be consoled for not marrying my 
mother; and whenever any other French 
princess was proposed to him, he used to say 

that she would never take the place of the 

one they had taken from him. It is true 

that my mother was a perfect beauty, and it 
is remarkable that when she was the widow 
of a duke of Longueville, three kings should 
have wanted to marry her. It was her mis- 
fortune to be married to the least important 
of them all, and to be sent to a kingdom 
where she has found nothing but unhappi- 

8o The Princess of Cleves. 

ness. I am told that I am like her ; I dread 
the same sad fate, and whatever happiness 
seems to be awaiting me, I doubt if I ever 
enjoy it." 

Mademoiselle de Chartres assured the 
crown princess that these gloomy presenti- 
ments were so fantastic that they could not 
long disturb her, and that she ought not 
to doubt that her good fortune would give 
the lie to her fears. 

Henceforth no one dared to think of 
Mademoiselle de Chartres, through fear of 
displeasing the king or of not succeeding 
in winning a young woman who had aspired 
to a prince of the blood. None of these con- 
siderations moved Monsieur de Cleves. The 
death of his father, the Duke of Nevers, 
'vhich happened at that time, left him free to 
follow his own inclinations, and as soon as 
the period of mourning had passed, he 
thought of nothing but marrying Mademoi- 
selle de Chartres. He was glad to make his 
proposal at a time when circumstances had 

The Princess of C I eves. gj 

driven away all rivals and when he felt al- 
most sure that she would not refuse him. 
What dimmed his joy was the fear of not 
being agreeable to her ; and he would have 
preferred the happiness of pleasing her to 
the certainty of marrying her when she did 
not love him. 

The Chevalier de Guise had somewhat 
aroused his jealousy; but since this was in- 
spired more by his rival's merits than by 
the conduct of Mademoiselle de Chartres, he 
thought of nothing but ascertaining whether 
by good fortune she would approve of his 
designs. He met her only at the queen's 
rooms or in company, yet he managed to 
speak to her of his intentions and hopes in 
the most respectful way; he begged her to 
let him know how she felt towards him, and 
told her that his feelings for her were such 
that he should be forever unhappy if she 
obeyed her mother only from a sense of duty. 

Mademoiselle de Chartres, having a very 

noble heart, was really grateful to the Prince 
VOL. i. 6 

82 The Princess of C I eves. 

of Cleves for what he did. This gratitude 
lent to her answer a certain gentleness, which 
was quite sufficient to feed the hope of a 
man as much in love as he was, and he 
counted on attaining at least a part of what 
he desired. 

Mademoiselle repeated this conversation to 
her mother, who said that Monsieur de Cleves 
was of such high birth, possessed so many 
fine qualities, and seemed so discreet for a 
man of his age, that if she inclined to marry 
him she would herself gladly give her consent. 
Mademoiselle de Chartres replied that she 
had noticed the same fine qualities, and that 
she would rather marry him than any one else, 
but that she had no special love for him. 

The next day the prince had his offer 
formally made to Madame de Chartres ; she 
accepted it, being willing to give her daugh- 
ter a husband she did not love. The mar- 
riage settlement was drawn up, the king was 
told of it, and the marriage became known 
to every one. 

The Princess of Cleves. 83 

Monsieur de Cleves was very happy, 
although not perfectly satisfied ; it gave him 
much pain to see that what Mademoiselle de 
Chartres felt for him was only esteem and 
gratitude, and he could not flatter himself 
that she nourished any warmer feeling; for 
had she done so, she would have readily 
shown it in their closer intimacy. Within a 
few days he complained to her of this. 

" Is it possible," he said, " that I may 
not be happy in my marriage ? Yet as- 
suredly I am not happy. You have a sort 
of kindly feeling for me which cannot satisfy 
me; you are not impatient, uneasy, or 
grieved : you are as indifferent to my love 
as if this were given to your purse, and not 
to your charms." 

" You do wrong to complain," she re- 
plied. " I do not know what more you 
can ask; it seems to me that you have no 
right to demand anything more." 

"It is true," he said, "that you have a 
certain air with which I should be satisfied 

84 The Princess of Cloves. 

if there were anything behind it; but in- 
stead of your being restrained by a sense of 
propriety, it is a sense of propriety which 
inspires your actions. I do not touch your 
feelings or your heart; my presence causes 
you neither pleasure nor pain." 

" You cannot doubt," she made answer, 
" that I am glad to see you, and I blush 
so often when I do see you that you may be 
sure that the sight of you affects me." 

" I am not deceived by your blushes," he 
urged; "they come from modesty, and not 
from any thrill of your heart, and I do not 
exaggerate their importance." 

Mademoiselle de Chartres did not know 
what to answer ; these distinctions were out- 
side of her experience. Monsieur de Cleves 
saw only too well how far removed she was 
from feeling for him as he should have liked, 
when he saw that she had no idea of what 
that feeling was. 

The Chevalier de Guise returned from a 
journey a few days before the wedding. 

The Princess of Cleves. 85 

He had seen so many insurmountable ob- 
obstacles in the way of his marrying 
Mademoiselle de Chartres that he knew he 
had no chance of success ; yet he was evi- 
dently distressed at seeing her become the 
wife of another. This grief did not ex- 
tinguish his passion, and he remained quite 
as much in love as before. Mademoiselle 
de Chartres had not been ignorant of his de- 
votion. On his return he let her know that 
she was the cause of the deep gloom that 
marked his face ; and he had so much merit 
and charm that it was almost impossible to 
make him unhappy without regretting it. 
Hence she was depressed ; but this pity went 
no further, and she told her mother how 
much pain this prince's love caused her. 

Madame de Chartres admired her daugh- 
ter's frankness, and with good reason, for it 
could not be fuller or simpler; she regretted, 
however, that her heart was not touched, es- 
pecially when she saw that the prince had 
not affected it any more than the others. 

86 The Princess of Cloves. 

Hence she took great pains to attach her to 
her future husband, and to impress upon her 
what she owed him for the interest he had 
taken in her before he knew who she was, 
and for the proof he had given of his love 
in choosing her at a time when no one 
else ventured to think of her. 

The marriage ceremony took place at the 
Louvre, and in the evening the king and 
queen, with all the court, supped at the 
house of Madame de Chartres, who received 
them with great splendor. The Chevalier de 
Guise did not venture to make himself con- 
spicuous by staying away, but his dejection 
was evident. 

Monsieur de Cleves did not find that Made- 
moiselle de Chartres had altered her feelings 
when she changed her name. His position as 
her husband gave him greater privileges, but 
no different place in her heart. Though he 
had married her, he did not cease to be her 
lover, because there was always left some- 
thing for him to desire; and though she 

The Princess of C I eves. 87 

lived on the best of terms with him, he was 
not yet perfectly happy. He preserved for 
her a violent and restless passion, which 
marred his joy. Jealousy had no part in it, 
for never had a husband been further from 
feeling it, or a wife from inspiring it. Yet 
she was exposed to all the temptations of the 
court, visiting the queen and the king's 
sister every day. All the young and fashion- 
able men met her at her own house and at 
that of her brother-in-law, the Duke of 
Nevers, whose doors were always open ; but 
she always had an air that inspired respect, 
and seemed so remote from gallantry that the 
Marshal of Saint-Andre", though bold and 
protected by the king's favor, was touched 
by her beauty without venturing to show it 
except by delicate attentions. There were 
many others who felt as did the marshal; 
and Madame de Chartres added to her 
daughter's natural modesty such a keen 
sense of propriety that she made her seem 
like a woman to be sighed for in vain. 

88 The Princess of Cleves. 

The Duchess of Lorraine, while trying to 
bring about peace, had also tried to arrange 
the marriage of her son, the Duke of Lorraine, 
and had succeeded ; he was to marry Madame 
Claude of France, the king's second daugh- 
ter. The wedding had been settled for the 
month of February. 

Meanwhile the Duke of Nemours had 
remained at Brussels, completely taken up 
with his plans for England. He was always 
sending and receiving messengers. His hopes 
grew from day to day, and at last Lignerolles 
told him that it was time for him to appear 
and finish in person what had been so well 
begun. He received this news with all the 
satisfaction that an ambitious man can feel 
at seeing himself raised to a throne simply 
through his reputation. He had gradually 
grown so accustomed to the contemplation 
of this great piece of good fortune that 
whereas at first he had regarded it as an im- 
possibility, all difficulties had vanished, and 
he foresaw no obstacles. 

The Princess of Cteves. 89 

He at once despatched to Paris orders for 
a magnificent outfit, that he might make his 
appearance in England with a splendor pro- 
portionate to his designs, and also hastened 
to court to be present at the wedding of the 
Duke of Lorraine. He arrived the day be- 
fore the formal betrothal, and that same 
evening went to report to the king the con- 
dition of affairs and to receive his advice and 
commands about his future conduct. Thence 
he went to pay his respects to the queens. 
Madame de Cleves was not there, so that she 
did not see him, and was not even aware of 
his arrival. She had heard every one speak 
of this prince as the handsomest and most 
agreeable man at court, and Madame the 
Dauphiness had spoken of him so often and 
in such terms that she felt some curiosity to 
see him. 

Madame de Cleves spent the day of the 
betrothal at home dressing herself for the 
ball in the evening at the Louvre. When she 
made her appearance, her beauty and the 

QO The Princess of Cleves. 

splendor of her dress aroused general admira- 
tion. The ball opened, and while she was 
dancing with Monsieur de Guise, there was a 
certain commotion at the door of the ball- 
room, as if some one were entering for whom 
way was being made. Madame de Cleves 
finished her dance, and while she was looking 
about for another partner, the king called 
out to her to take the gentleman who had 
just arrived. She turned, and saw a man, 
who she thought must be Monsieur de Ne- 
mours, stepping over some seats to reach the 
place where the dancing was going on. No 
one ever saw this prince for the first time 
without amazement ; and this evening he was 
more striking than ever in the rich attire 
which set off his natural beauty to such 
great advantage; and it was also hard to 
see Madame de Cleves for the first time 
without astonishment. 

Monsieur de Nemours was so amazed by 
her beauty that when he drew near her and 
bowed to her he could not conceal his 

The Princess of Cleves. 91 

wonder and delight. When they began 
their dance, a murmur of admiration ran 
through the ball-room. The king and the 
queens remembered that the pair had never 
met, and saw how strange it was that they 
should be dancing together without being 
acquainted. They summoned them when 
they had finished the set, and without 
giving them a chance to speak to any 
one, asked if each would not like to know 
who the other was, and whether either had 
any idea. 

" As for me, Madame," said Monsieur 
de Nemours, " I have no doubts; but since 
Madame de Cleves has not the same reasons 
for guessing who I am that I have for recog- 
nizing her, I must beg your Majesty to be 
good enough to tell her my name." 

" I fancy," said the dauphiness, " that she 
knows it as well as you know hers." 

" I assure you, Madame," said Madame de 
Cleves, who seemed a little embarrassed, 
" that I cannot guess so well as you think." 

92 The Princess of Cleves. 

" You can guess very well," replied the 
dauphiness, " and you are very kind to Mon- 
sieur de Nemours in your unwillingness to 
acknowledge that you recognize him with- 
out ever having seen him before." 

The queen interrupted the conversation, 
that the ball might go on, and Monsieur 
de Nemours danced with the dauphiness- 
This lady was a perfect beauty, and had 
always appeared to be one in the eyes of 
Monsieur de Nemours before he went to 
Flanders; but all that evening he admired 
no one but Madame de Cleves. 

The Chevalier de Guise, who never ceased 
worshipping her, was standing near, and this 
incident caused him evident pain. He re- 
garded it as a sure sign that fate meant that 
Monsieur de Nemours should fall in love with 
Madame de Cleves ; and whether it was that 
he saw something in her face, or that jealousy 
sharpened his fears, he believed that she had 
been moved by the sight of this prince, and 
he could not keep from telling her that Mon- 

The Princess of C lives. 93 

sieur de Nemours was very fortunate in 
making her acquaintance in such a gallant 
and unusual way. 

Madame de Cleves went home so full of 
what had happened at the ball that though 
it was very late, she went to her mother's 
room to tell her about it; and she praised 
Monsieur de Nemours with a certain air that 
made Madame de Chartres entertain the same 
suspicion as the Chevalier de Guise. 

The next day the wedding took place; 
Madame de Cleves there saw the Duke of 
Nemours, and was even more struck by his 
admirable grace and dignity than before. 

On succeeding days she met him at the 
drawing-room of the dauphiness, saw him 
playing tennis with the king and riding 
at the ring, and heard him talk; and she 
always found him so superior to every one 
else, and so much outshining all in conversa- 
tion wherever he might be, by the grace of 
his person and the charm of his wit, that he 
soon made a deep impression on her heart. 

94 The Princess of Cleves. 

Then, too, the desire to please made the 
Duke of Nemours, who was already deeply 
interested, more charming than ever; and 
since they met often, and found each other 
more attractive than any one else at court, 
they naturally experienced great delight in 
being together. 

The Duchess of Valentinois took part in 
all the merry-making, and the king showed 
her all the interest and attention that he had 
done when first in love with her. Madame 
de Cleves, who was then of an age at which 
it is usual to believe that no woman can 
ever be loved after she is twenty-five years 
old, regarded with great amazement the 
king's attachment to this duchess, who was 
a grandmother and had just married her 
granddaughter. She often spoke of it to 
Madame de Chartres. " Is it possible," 
she asked, " that the king has been in love 
so long? How could he get interested in 
a woman much older than himself, and 
who had been his father's mistress, as well 

The Princess of Cleves. 95 

as that of a great many other men, as I 
have heard? " 

" It is true," was the answer, " that neither 
merit nor fidelity inspired the king's passion, 
or has kept it alive. And this is something 
which is scarcely to be excused; for had 
this woman had youth and beauty as well as 
rank, had she loved no one else, had she 
loved the king with untiring constancy, for 
himself alone, and not solely for his wealth 
and position, and had she used her power for 
worthy objects such as the king desired, it 
would have been easy to admire his great 
devotion to her. If," Madame de Chartres 
went on, " I were not afraid that you would 
say of me what is always said of women of 
my age, that we like to talk about old times, 
I would tell you the beginning of the king's 
love for this duchess ; and many things that 
happened at the court of the late king bear 
much resemblance to what is now going on." 

" So far from accusing you of repeating old 
stories," said Madame de Cleves, " I regret 

96 The Princess of Cllves. 

that you have told me so little about the 
present, and that you have not taught me the 
different interests and intrigues of the court. 
I am so ignorant of them that a few days 
ago I thought the constable was on the best 
of terms with the queen." 

" You were very far from the truth," re- 
plied Madame de Chartres. " The queen 
hates the constable, and if she ever gets 
any power he will learn it very quickly. She 
knows that he has often told the king that 
of all his children it is only his bastards who 
look like him." 

" I should never have imagined this hatred," 
interrupted Madame de Cleves, " after seeing 
the zeal with which the queen wrote to the 
constable when he was in prison, the joy she 
manifested at his return, and the familiarity 
of her address as regards him." 

" If you judge from appearances here," re- 
plied Madame de Chartres, " you will be 
often mistaken ; what appears is seldom the 

The Princess of Cleves. 97 

" But to return to Madame de Valentinois : 
you know her name is Diane de Poitiers. 
She is of illustrious family, being descended 
from the old dukes of Aquitaine ; her grand- 
mother was a natural daughter of Louis XL, 
in short, there is no common blood in her 
veins. Saint-Vallier, her father, was impli- 
cated in the affair of the Constable of Bour- 
bon, of which you have heard, was condemned 
to be beheaded, and was led to the scaffold. 
His daughter, who was remarkably beauti- 
ful, and had already pleased the late king, 
managed, I don't know how, to save her 
father's life. His pardon was granted him 
when he was expecting the mortal stroke ; 
but fear had so possessed him that he did 
not recover consciousness, but died a few days 
later. His daughter made her appearance 
at court as the king's mistress. His journey 
to Italy and his imprisonment interrupted 
this passion. When he returned from Spain 
and Madame Regente went to meet him at 
Bayonne, she had with her all her young 

VOL. I. 7 

98 The Princess of Cloves. 

women, among whom was Mademoiselle de 
Pisseleu, afterwards Duchess of Estampes. 
The king fell in love with her, though she was 
inferior in birth, beauty, and intelligence to 
Madame de Valentinois : the only advantage 
she had was that she was younger. I have 
often heard her say that she was born on 
the day that Diane de Potiers was married ; 
but that remark was more malicious than 
truthful, for I am much mistaken if the 
Duchess of Valentinois did not marry Mon- 
sieur de Breze, grand seneschal of Normandy, 
at the same time that the king fell in love 
with Madame d'Estampes. Never was there 
fiercer hatred than existed between those 
two women. The Duchess of Valentinois 
could not forgive Madame d'Estampes for 
depriving her of the title of the king's 
mistress. Madame d'Estampes was madly 
jealous of Madame de Valentinois because 
the king maintained his relations with her. 
This king was never rigorously faithful to 
his mistresses; there was always one who 

The Princess of Cleves. 99 

had the title and the honors, but the ladies 
of what was called the little band shared his 
attentions. The death of his oldest son, it 
was supposed by poison, at Tournon, was a 
great blow to him. He had much less love 
for his second son, the present king, who was 
in every way far less to his taste, and whom he 
even regarded as lacking courage and spirit. 
He was lamenting this one day to Madame 
de Valentinois, whereupon she said she would 
like to make him fall in love with her, that he 
might become livelier and more agreeable. 
She succeeded, as you know. This love 
has lasted more than twenty years, without 
being dimmed by time or circumstances. 

"At first the late king oLjected to it, 
whether because he was still enough in love 
with Madame de Valentinois to feel jealous, 
or because he was influenced by Madame 
d'Estampes, who was in despair when the dau- 
phin became attached to her enemy, is uncer- 
tain ; however that may be, he viewed this 
passion with an anger and a disapproval that 

ioo The Princess of Cloves. 

were apparent every day. His son feared 
neither his wrath nor his hate ; and since noth- 
ing could induce him to abate or to conceal 
his attachment, the king was forced to endure 
it as best he could. His son's opposition to 
his wishes estranged him still more, and at- 
tached him more closely to the Duke of 
Orleans, his third son. This prince was 
handsome, energetic, ambitious, of a some- 
what tempestuous nature, which needed to 
be controlled, but who in time would be- 
come a really fine man. 

" The elder son's rank as dauphin and the 
father's preference for the Duke of Orleans 
inspired a rivalry between them which 
amounted to hatred. This rivalry had be- 
gun in their childhood, and lasted until the 
death of the latter. When the emperor 
entered French territory he gave his whole 
preference to the Duke of Orleans. This so 
pained the dauphin that when the emperor 
was at Chantilly he tried to compel the con- 
stable to arrest him, without waiting for the 

The Princess of C lives. 101 

king's orders; but the constable refused. 
Afterward the king blamed him for not 
following his son's advice; and this had a 
good deal to do with his leaving the court. 

" The division between the two brothers in- 
duced the Duchess of Estampes to rely on 
the Duke of Orleans for protection against 
the influence which Madame de Valentinois 
had over the king. In this she succeeded ; 
the duke, without falling in love with her, 
was as warm in defence of her interests as 
was the dauphin in defence of those of 
Madame de Valentinois. Hence there were 
two cabals in the court such as you can 
imagine; but the intrigues were not limited 
to two women's quarrels. 

" The emperor, who had maintained his 
friendship for the Duke of Orleans, had fre- 
quently offered him the duchy of Milan. 
In the subsequent negotiations about peace, 
he raised hopes in the breast of the duke 
that he would give him the seventeen prov- 
inces and his daughter's hand. The dau- 

IO2 The Princess of Cteves. 

phin, however, desired neither peace nor 
this marriage. He made use of the con- 
stable, whom he has always loved, to con- 
vince the king how important t was not to 
give to his successor a brother so powerful 
as would be the Duke of Orleans in alliance 
with the emperor and governing the seven- 
teen provinces. The constable agreed the 
more heartily with the dauphin's views 
because he also opposed those of Madame 
d'Estampes, who was his avowed enemy, and 
ardently desired that the power of the Duke 
of Orleans should be increased. 

" At that time the dauphin was in com- 
mand of the king's army in Champagne, and 
had reduced that of the emperor to such 
extremities that it would have utterly per- 
ished had not the Duchess of Estampes, 
fearing that too great success would pre- 
vent our granting peace and consenting 
to the marriage, secretly sent word to the 
enemy to surprise Epernay and Chateau- 
Thierry, which were full of supplies. This 

The Princess of Cleves. 103 

they did, and thereby saved their whole 

" This duchess did not long profit by 
her treason. Soon afterward the Duke of 
Orleans died at Farmoutier of some conta- 
gious disease. He loved one of the most 
beautiful women of the court, and was be- 
loved by her. I shall not tell you who it 
was, because her life since that time has been 
most decorous ; and she has tried so hard to 
have her affection for the prince forgotten 
that she deserves to have her reputation left 
untarnished. It so happened that she heard 
of her husband's death on the same day that 
she heard of that of Monsieur d'Orleans; 
consequently she was able to conceal her 
real grief without an effort. 

" The king did not long survive his 
son's decease, he died two years later. He 
urged the dauphin to make use of the ser- 
vices of the Cardinal of Tournon and of the 
Amiral d'Annebauld, without saying a word 
about the constable, who at that time was 

IO4 The Princess of C I eves. 

banished to Chantilly. Nevertheless, the 
first thing the present king did after his 
father's death was to call the constable 
back and intrust him with the management 
of affairs. 

" Madame d'Estampes was sent away, and 
became the victim of all the ill-treatment she 
might have expected from an all-powerful 
enemy. The Duchess of Valentinois took 
full vengeance on this duchess and on all who 
had displeased her. Her power over the king 
seemed the greater because it had not ap- 
peared while he was dauphin. During the 
twelve years of his reign she has been in 
everything absolute mistress. She disposes 
of places and controls affairs of every sort ; 
she secured the dismissal of the Cardinal of 
Tournon, of the Chancelier Olivier, and of 
Villeroy. Those who have endeavored to 
open the king's eyes to her conduct have 
been ruined for their pains. The Count of 
Taix, commander-in-chief of the artillery, 
who did not like her, could not keep from 

The Princess of Cleves. 105 

talking about her love affairs, and especially 
about one with the Count of Brissac, of 
whom the king was already very jealous. 
Yet she managed so well that the Count 
of Taix was disgraced and deprived of his 
position ; and impossible as it may sound, he 
was succeeded by the Count of Brissac, whom 
she afterward made a marshal of France. 
Still, the king's jealousy became so violent 
that he could not endure having this marshal 
remain at court; but though usually jeal- 
ousy is a hot and violent passion, it is modi- 
fied and tempered in him by his extreme re- 
spect for his mistress, so that the only means 
he ventured to use to rid himself of his rival 
was by intrusting to him the government of 
Piedmont. There he has spent several years ; 
last winter, however, he returned, under the 
pretext of asking for men and supplies for 
the army under his command. Possibly 
the desire of seeing Madame de Valentinois 
and dread of being forgotten had something 
to do with this journey. The king received 

io(5 The Princess of Cteves, 

him very coldly. The Guises, who do not 
like him, did not dare betray their feelings, 
on account of Madame de Valentinois, so 
they made use of the Vidame, his open 
enemy, to prevent his getting any of the 
things he wanted. It was not hard to injure 
him. The king hated him, and was made 
uneasy by his presence ; consequently he 
was obliged to go back without getting 
any advantage from his journey, unless, 
possibly, he had rekindled in the heart of 
Madame de Valentinois feelings which ab- 
sence had nearly extinguished. The king 
has had many other grounds for jealousy, 
but either he has not known them, or he 
has not dared to complain. 

" I am not sure, my dear," added Madame 
de Chartres, " that you may not think I have 
told you more than you cared to hear." 

" Not at all," answered Madame de Cleves ; 
" and if I were not afraid of tiring you, I 
should ask you many more questions." 

Monsieur de Nemours' love for Madame de 

The Princess of Cloves. 107 

Cleves was at first so violent that he lost all 
interest in those he had formerly loved, and 
with whom he had kept up relations during 
his absence. He not merely did not seek 
any excuses for deserting them, he would not 
even listen to their complaints or reply to 
their reproaches. The dauphiness, for whom 
he had nourished very warm feelings, was 
soon forgotten by the side of Madame de 
Cleves. His impatience for his journey to 
England began to abate, and he ceased to 
hasten his preparations for departure. He 
often visited the crown princess, because 
Madame de Cleves was frequently in her 
apartments, and he was not unwilling to give 
some justification to the widespread suspi- 
cions about his feelings for the dauphiness. 
Madame de Cleves seemed to him so rare 
a prize that he decided to conceal all signs 
of his love rather than let it be generally 
known. He never spoke of it even to his 
intimate friend the Vidame de Chartres, to 
whom he usually confided everything. He 

jo8 The Princess of C I eves. 

was so cautious and discreet that no one 
suspected his love for Madame de Cleves 
except the Chevalier de Guise; and the 
lady herself would scarcely have perceived 
it had not her own interest in him made 
her watch him very closely, so that she 
became sure of it. 

Madame de Cleves did not find herself so 
disposed to tell her mother what she thought 
of this prince's feelings as had been the case 
with her other lovers ; and without definitely 
deciding on reserve, she yet never spoke of 
the subject. But Madame de Chartres soon 
perceived this, as well as her daughter's in- 
terest in him. This knowledge gave her 
distinct pain, for she well understood how 
dangerous it was for Madame de Cleves to 
be loved by a man like Monsieur de 
Nemours, especially when she was already 
disposed to admire him. An incident that 
happened a few days later confirmed her 
suspicions of this liking. 

The Marshal of Saint-Andre, who was 

The Princess of C I eves. 109 

always on the look-out for opportunities to 
display his magnificence, made a pretext of. 
desiring to show his house, which had just 
been finished, and invited the king to do 
him the honor of supping there with the 
queens. The marshal was also glad to be 
able to show to Madame de Cleves his lavish 

A few days before the one of the supper, 
the dauphin, whose health was delicate, had 
been ailing and had seen no one. His wife, 
the crown princess, had spent the whole 
day with him, and toward evening, as he 
felt better, he received all the persons of 
quality who were in his ante-chamber. The 
crown princess went to her own apartment, 
where she found Madame de Cleves and a 
few other ladies with whom she was most 

Since it was already late, and the crown 
princess was not dressed, she did not go to 
the queen, but sent word she could not 
come ; she then had her jewels brought, to 

no The Princess of Cleves. 

decide what she should wear at the Marshal 
of Saint- Andre's ball, and to give some, ac- 
cording to a promise she had made, to 
Madame de Cleves. While they were thus 
occupied, the Prince of Conde, whose rank 
gave him free admission everywhere, en- 
tered. The crown princess said to him that 
he doubtless came from her husband, and 
asked what was going on in his apartments. 

" They are having a discussion, Madame, 
with Monsieur de Nemours," he answered. 
" He defends the side he has taken so eagerly 
that he must have a personal interest in it. 
I fancy he has a mistress who makes him 
uneasy when she goes to a ball, for he main- 
tains that it makes a lover unhappy to see 
the woman he loves at such a place." 

"What! " said the dauphiness, "Monsieur 
de Nemours does not want his mistress to 
go to a ball? I thought husbands might 
object, but I never supposed that lovers 
could have such a feeling." 

" Monsieur de Nemours," replied the Prince 

The Princess of Cloves. 1 1 1 

of Conde, " declares that a ball is most distress- 
ing to lovers, whether they are loved or not. 
He says if their love is returned, they have 
the pain of being loved less for several days ; 
that there is not a woman in the world who 
is not prevented from thinking of her lover 
by the demands of her toilet, which entirely 
engrosses her attention ; that women dress 
for every one as well as for those they love ; 
that when they are at the ball they are anx- 
ious to please all who look at them ; that 
when they are proud of their beauty, they 
feel a pleasure in which the lover plays but 
a small part. He says, too, that one who 
sighs in vain suffers even more when he sees 
his mistress at an entertainment; that the 
more she is admired by the public, the more 
one suffers at not being loved, through fear 
lest her beauty should kindle some love hap- 
pier than his own ; finally, that there is no 
pain so keen as seeing one's mistress at a 
ball, except knowing that she is there while 
absent one's self." 

H2 The Princess of Cleves. 

Madame de Cleves, though pretending not 
to hear what the Prince of Conde was say- 
ing, listened attentively. She readily under- 
stood her share in the opinion expressed by 
Monsieur de Nemours, especially when he 
spoke of his grief at not being at the ball 
with his mistress, because he was not to be 
at that given by the Marshal of Saint-Andre, 
being ordered by the king to go to meet 
the Duke of Ferrara. 

The crown princess laughed with the 
Prince of Conde, and expressed her disap- 
proval of the views of Monsieur de Nemours. 
" There is only one condition, Madame," 
said the prince, " on which Monsieur de 
Nemours is willing that his mistress should 
go to a ball, and that is that he himself 
should give her permission. He said that 
last year when he gave a ball to your Ma- 
jesty, he thought that his mistress did him 
a great favor in coming to it, though she 
seemed to be there only as one of your suite ; 
that it is always a kindness to a lover to take 

The Princess of Cloves. 113 

part in any entertainment that he gives ; and 
that it is also agreeable to a lover to have 
his mistress see him the host of the whole 
court and doing the honors fittingly." 

" Monsieur de Nemours did well," said the 
dauphiness, with a smile, " to let his mistress 
go to that ball ; for so many women claimed 
that position that if they had not come, there 
would have been scarcely any one there." 

As soon as the Prince of Cond6 had begun 
to speak of what Monsieur de Nemours 
thought of the ball, Madame de Cleves 
was very anxious not to go to that of the 
Marshal of Saint-Andre. She readily agreed 
that it was not fitting for a woman to go to 
the house of a man who was in love with her, 
and she was glad to have so good a reason 
for doing a kindness to Monsieur de 
Nemours. Nevertheless, she took away the 
jewels which the crown princess had given 
her; that evening, however, when she showed 
them to her mother, she told her that she did 
not mean to wear them, that the Marshal of 

VOL. I. S 

ii4 The Princess of C I eves. 

Saint- Andr had made his love for her so 
manifest that she felt sure he meant to have 
it thought that she was to have some part in 
the entertainment he was to give to the king, 
and that under the pretext of doing honor 
to the king he would pay her attentions 
which might perhaps prove embarrassing. 

Madame de Chartres argued for some time 
against her daughter's decision, which she 
thought singular, but at last yielded, and 
told her she must pretend to be ill, in order 
to have a good excuse for not going, because 
her real reasons would not be approved and 
should not be suspected. Madame de Cleves 
gladly consented to stay at home for a few 
days, in order not to meet Monsieur de 
Nemours, who left without having the pleas- 
ure of knowing that she was not going to 
the ball. 

The duke returned the day after the ball, 
and heard that she had not been there ; but 
inasmuch as he did not know that his talk 
with the dauphin had been repeated to her. 

The Princess of Cleves. 115 

he was far from thinking that he was for- 
tunate enough to be the cause of her 

The next day, when Monsieur de Nemours 
was calling on the queen and talking with 
the dauphiness, Madame de Chartres and 
Madame de Cleves happened to come in 
and approached this princess. Madame de 
Cleves was not in full dress, as if she were 
not very well, though her countenance be- 
lied her attire. 

" You look so well," said the crown prin- 
cess, " that I can scarcely believe that you 
have been ill. I fancy that the Prince of 
Conde, when he told you what Monsieur de 
Nemours thought about the ball, convinced 
you that you would do a kindness to the 
Marshal of Saint-Andre by going to his ball, 
and that that was the reason you stayed 

Madame de Cleves blushed at the dau- 
phiness's accurate guess which she thus ex- 
pressed before Monsieur de Nemours. 

n6 The Princess of Clevcs. 

Madame de Chartres saw at once why her 
daughter did not go to the ball, and in order 
to throw Monsieur de Nemours off the track, 
she at once addressed the dauphiness with an 
air of sincerity. "I assure you, Madame," 
she said, "that your Majesty pays an honor 
to my daughter which she does not deserve. 
She was really ill ; but I am sure that if I 
had not forbidden it, she would have accom- 
panied you, unfit as she was, to have the 
pleasure of seeing the wonderful entertain- 
ment last evening." 

The dauphiness believed what Madame 
de Chartres said, and Monsieur de Nemours 
was vexed to see how probable her story 
was ; nevertheless, the confusion of Madame 
de Cleves made him suspect that the 
dauphiness's conjecture was not without 
some foundation in fact. At first Madame 
de Cleves had been annoyed because Mon- 
sieur de Nemours had reason to suppose 
that it was he who had kept her from go- 
ing to the b^ll, and then she felt regret 

The Princess of C I eves. 1 1 7 

that her mother had entirely removed the 
grounds for this supposition. 

Although the attempt to make peace at 
Cercamp had failed, negotiations still con- 
tinued, and matters had assumed such a 
shape that toward the end of February a 
meeting was held at Cateau-Cambresis. The 
same commissioners had assembled there, 
and the departure of the Marshal of Saint- 
Andr6 freed Monsieur de Nemours from a 
rival who was more to be dreaded on ac- 
count of his close observation of all those 
who approached Madame de Cleves than 
from any real success of his own. 

Madame de Chartres did not wish to let 
her daughter see that she knew her feeling 
for this prince, lest she should make her 
suspicious of the advice she wanted to give 
her. One day she began to talk about him. 
She spoke of him in warm terms, but craftily 
praised his discretion in being unable to fall 
really in love and in seeking only pleasure, 
not a serious attachment, in his relations with 

n8 The Princess of Cleves. 

women. " To be sure," she went on, " he has 
been suspected of a great passion for the 
dauphiness; I notice that he visits her very 
often, and I advise you to avoid talking with 
him as much as possible, especially in priv- 
ate, because you are on such terms with the 
crown princess that people would say that 
you were their confidant, and you know how 
disagreeable that would be. I think that if 
the report continues, you would do well to 
see less of the crown princess, that you may 
not be connected with love-affairs of that 

Madame de Cleves had never heard Mon- 
sieur de Nemours and the dauphiness talked 
about, and was much surprised by what her 
mother said. She was so sure that she had 
misunderstood the prince's feelings for her 
that she changed color. Madame de Char- 
tres noticed this, but company coming in at 
that moment, Madame de Cleves went home 
and locked herself up in her room. 

It is impossible to express her grief when 

The Princess of Cloves. 119 

her mother's words opened her eyes to the 
interest she took in Monsieur de Nemours; 
she had never dared to acknowledge it to 
herself. Then she saw that her feelings for 
him were what Monsieur de Cleves had so 
often supplicated, and she felt the mortifica- 
tion of having them for another than a hus- 
band who so well deserved them. She felt 
hurt and embarrassed, fearing that Mon- 
sieur de Nemours might have used her as 
a pretext for seeing the dauphiness; and 
this thought decided her to tell Madame 
de Chartres what she had hitherto kept 

The next morning she went to her mother 
to carry out this decision; but Madame de 
Chartres was a little feverish, and did not 
care to talk with her. The illness seemed 
so slight, however, that Madame de Cleves 
called on the dauphiness after dinner, and 
found her in her room with two or three 
ladies with whom she was on intimate 

I2O The Princess of Cleves. 

" We were talking about Monsieur de 
Nemours," said the queen when she saw 
her, " and were surprised to see how 
much he is changed since his return from 
Brussels; before he went, he had an in- 
finite number of mistresses, and it was a 
positive disadvantage to him, because he 
used to be kind both to those who were 
worthy and to those who were not. Since 
his return, however, he will have nothing 
to do with any of them. There has never 
been such a change. His spirits, moreover, 
seem to be affected, as he is much less 
cheerful than usual." 

Madame de Cleves made no answer; she 
thought with a sense of shame that she would 
have taken all that they said about the 
change in him for a proof of his passion if 
she had not been undeceived. She was 
somewhat vexed with the dauphiness for 
trying to explain and for expressing surprise 
at something of which she must know the 
real reason better than any one else. She 

The Princess of Cleves. 1 2 1 

could not keep from showing her annoyance, 
and when the other ladies withdrew, she went 
up to the crown princess and said in a low 

"Is it for my benefit that you have just 
spoken, and do you want to hide from me 
that you are the cause of the altered con- 
duct of Monsieur de Nemours?" 

" You are unjust," said the crown prin- 
cess ; " you know that I never keep any- 
thing from you. It is true that before he 
went to Brussels, Monsieur de Nemours 
meant to have me understand that he did 
not hate me ; but since his return he seems 
to have forgotten all about it, and I confess 
that I am a little curious about the reason 
of this change. I shall probably find it out," 
she went on, "as the Vidame de Chartres, 
his intimate friend, is in love with a young 
woman over whom I have some power, and 
I shall know from her what has made this 

The dauphiness spoke with an air that 

122 The Princess of Cleves. 

carried conviction to Madame de Cleves, 
who found herself calmer and happier than 
she had been before. When she went back 
to her mother, she found her much worse 
than when she had left her. She was more 
feverish, and for some days it seemed as if 
she were going to be really ill. Madame 
de Cleves was in great distress, and did 
not leave her mother's room. Monsieur de 
Cleves spent nearly all his time there too, 
both to comfort his wife and to have the 
pleasure of seeing her: his love had not 

Monsieur de Nemours, who had always 
been one of his friends, had not neglected 
him since his return from Brussels. During 
the illness of Madame de Chartres he found 
it possible to see Madame de Cleves very 
often, under pretence of calling on her hus- 
band or of stopping to take him to walk. 
He even sought him at hours when he knew 
he was not in ; then he would say that he 
would wait for him, and used to stay in the 

The Princess of C I eves. 123 

ante-chamber of Madame de Chartres, where 
were assembled many persons of quality. 
Madame de Cleves would often look in, 
and although she was in great anxiety, she 
seemed no less beautiful to Monsieur de 
Nemours. He showed her how much he 
sympathized with her distress, and soon 
convinced her that it was not with the dau- 
phiness that he was in love. 

She could not keep from being embar- 
rassed, and yet delighted to see him; but 
when he was out of her sight and she re- 
membered that this pleasure was the begin- 
ning of an unhappy passion, she felt she 
almost hated him, so much did the idea 
of guilty love pain her. 

Madame de Chartres rapidly grew worse, 
and soon her life was despaired of; she 
heard the doctors' opinion of her danger 
with a courage proportionate to her virtue 
and piety. After they had left her, she dis- 
missed all who were present, and sent for 
Madame de Cleves. 

124 The Princess of C I eves. 

" We have to part, my daughter," she said, 
holding out her hand; "and the peril in 
which you are and the need you have of me, 
double my pain in leaving you. You have 
an affection for Monsieur de Nemours ; I do 
not ask you to confess it, as I am no longer 
able to make use of your sincerity in order 
to guide you. It is long since I perceived 
this affection, but I have been averse to 
speaking to you about it, lest you should 
become aware of it yourself. Now you 
know it only too well. You are on the edge 
of a precipice : a great effort, a violent strug- 
gle, alone can save you. Think of what 
you owe your husband, think of what you 
owe yourself, and remember that you are in 
danger of losing that reputation which you 
have acquired and which I have so ardently 
desired for you. Take strength and courage, 
my daughter: withdraw from the court; 
compel your husband to take you away. Do 
not be afraid of making a difficult decision. 
Terrible as it may appear at first, it will in 

The Princess of C I eves. 125 

the end be pleasanter than the consequences 
of a love-affair. If any other reasons than 
virtue and duty can persuade you to what 
I wish, let me say that if anything is capable 
of destroying the happiness I hope for in 
another world, it would be seeing you fall 
like so many women ; but if this misfortune 
must come to you, I welcome death that I 
may not see it." 

Madame de Cleves's tears fell on her 
mother's hand, which she held clasped in 
her own, and Madame de Chartres saw that 
she was moved. " Good-by, my daughter," 
she said ; " let us put an end to a conversa- 
tion which moves us both too deeply, and 
remember, if you can, all I have just said 
to you." 

With these words she turned away and 
bade her daughter call her women, without 
hearing or saying more. Madame de Cleves 
left her mother's room in a state that may be 
imagined, and Madame de Chartres thought 

126 The Princess of Cleves. 

of nothing but preparing herself for death. 
She lingered two days more, but refused 
again to see her daughter, the only per- 
son she loved. 

Madame de Cleves was in sore distress ; 
her husband never left her side, and as soon 
as Madame de Chartres had died, he took 
her into the country, to get her away from 
a place which continually renewed her grief, 
which was intense. Although her love and 
gratitude to her mother counted for a great 
deal, the need she felt of her support against 
Monsieur de Nemours made the blow even 
more painful. She lamented being left to 
herself when she had her emotions so little 
under control, and when she so needed some 
one to pity her and give her strength. Her 
husband's kindness made her wish more 
than ever to be always true to him. She 
showed him more affection and kindli- 
ness than she had ever done before, and 
she wanted him always by her side; for it 

The Princess of C I eves. 127 

seemed to her that her attachment to him 
would prove a defence against Monsieur de 

This prince went to visit Monsieur de 
Cleves in the country, and did his best to 
see Madame de Cleves; but she declined 
to receive him, knowing that she could 
not fail to find him charming. Moreover, 
she resolutely determined to avoid every 
occasion of meeting him, so far as she was 

Monsieur de Cleves repaired to Paris to 
pay his respects at court, promising his wife 
to return the next day; but he did not 
return till the day after. 

" I expected you all day yesterday," 
Madame de Cleves said to him when he ar- 
rived, " and I ought to find fault with you 
for not returning when you promised. You 
know that if I could feel a new sorrow in the 
state I am in, it would be at the death of 
Madame de Tournon, of which I heard this 

128 The Princess of Cleves. 

morning. I should have been distressed by 
it even if I had not known her. It is always 
painful when a young and beautiful woman 
like her dies after an illness of only two 
days, and much more so when it is one 
of the persons I liked best in the world, 
and who seemed as modest as she was 

" I was sorry not to return yesterday," 
answered Monsieur de Cleves ; " but it was 
so imperatively necessary that I should 
console an unhappy man that I could 
not possibly leave him. As for Madame 
de Tournon, I advise you not to be too 
profoundly distressed, if you mourn her as 
an upright woman who deserved your 

" You surprise me," said Madame de 
Cleves, " as I have often heard you say that 
there was no woman at court whom you 
esteemed more highly." 

" That is true," he answered ; " but women 

The Princess of C I eves. 129 

are incomprehensible, and the more I see of 
them, the happier I feel that I have married 
you, and I cannot be sufficiently grateful for 
my good fortune." 

" You think better of me than I deserve," 
exclaimed Madame de Cleves, with a sigh, 
" and it is much too soon to think me 
worthy of you. But tell me, please, what 
has undeceived you about Madame de 

" I have long been undeceived in re- 
gard to her," he replied, " and have long 
known that she loved the Count of San- 
cerre, to whom she held out hopes that she 
would marry him." 

" I can scarcely believe," interrupted 
Madame de Cleves, " that Madame de Tour- 
non, after the extraordinary reluctance to 
matrimony which she showed after she be- 
came a widow, and after her public assertions 
that she would never marry again, should 
have given Sancerre any hopes." 

VOL. I. 9 

130 The Princess of Cleves. 

" If she had given them only to him," 
replied Monsieur de Cleves, "there would 
be little occasion for surprise ; but what is 
astounding is that she also gave them to 
Estouteville at the same time, and I will 
tell you the whole story." 


" "\7"OU know," Monsieur de Cleves con- 
tinued, " what good friends Sancerre 
and I are ; yet when, about two years ago, 
he fell in love with Madame de Tournon, 
he took great pains to conceal it from me, 
as well as from every one else, and I was 
far from suspecting it. Madame de Tour- 
non appeared still inconsolable for her hus- 
band's death, and was still living in the most 
absolute retirement. Sancerre's sister was 

132 The Princess of Cfeves. 

almost the only person she saw, and it was at 
her house that the count fell in love with her. 

" One evening when there was to be a play 
at the Louvre, and while they were waiting 
for the king and Madame de Valentinois in 
order to begin, word was brought that she 
was ill and that the king would not come. 
Every one guessed that the duchess's illness 
was some quarrel with the king. We knew 
how jealous he had been of the Marshal of 
Brissac during his stay at court; but the 
marshal had gone back to Piedmont a few 
days before, and we could not imagine the 
cause of this falling-out. 

" While I was talking about it with San- 
cerre, Monsieur d'Anville came into the hall 
and whispered to me that the king was in 
a state of distress and anger most piteous to 
see ; that when he and Madame de Valenti- 
nois were reconciled a few days before, after 
their quarrels about the Marshal of Brissac, 
the king had given her a ring and asked her 
to wear it. While she was dressing for the 
play, he had noticed its absence, and had 

The Princess of C I eves. 133 

asked her the reason. She seemed sur- 
prised to miss it, and asked her women for 
it; but they, unfortunately, perhaps because 
tly had not been put on their guard, said 
that it was some four or five days since 
they had seen it. 

" ' That exactly corresponded with the date 
of the Marshal of Brissac's departure,' Mon- 
sieur d'Anville went on ; ' and the king is con- 
vinced that she gave him the ring when she 
bade him good-by. This thought has so 
aroused all his jealousy, which was by no 
means wholly extinguished, that, contrary to 
his usual custom, he flew into a rage and re- 
proached her bitterly. He has gone back to 
his room in great distress, whether because he 
thinks that Madame de Valentinois has given 
away his ring, or because he fears that he has 
displeased her by his wrath, I do not know." 

" As soon as Monsieur d'Anville had 
finished, I went up to Sancerre to tell him 
the news, assuring him that it was a secret 
that had just been told me, and was to go no 

134 The Princess of Cloves. 

"The next morning I called rather early 
on my sister-in-law, and found Madame de 
Tournon there. She did not like Madame 
de Valentinois, and knew very well that t.^<- 
sister-in-lawalso had no reason for being fond 
of her. Sancerre had seen her when he left 
the play, and had told her about the king's 
quarrel with the duchess ; this she had come 
to repeat to my sister-in-law, either not know- 
ing or not remembering that it was I who 
had told her lover. 

" When I came in, my sister-in-law said to 
Madame de Tournon that I could be trusted 
with what she had just told her, and with- 
out waiting for permission she repeated to 
me word for word everything I had told 
Sancerre the previous evening. You will un- 
derstand my surprise. I looked at Madame 
de Tournon, who seemed embarrassed, and 
her embarrassment aroused my suspicions. 
I had mentioned the matter to no one but 
Sancerre, who had left me after the play, 
without saying where he was going; but 

The Princess of Cleves. 135 

I remembered hearing him praise Madame 
de Tournon very warmly. All these things 
opened my eyes, and I soon decided that 
there was a love-affair between them, and 
that he had seen her after he left me. 

" I was so annoyed to find that he kept 
the matter secret from me that I said a good 
many things that made it clear to Madame 
de Tournon that she had been imprudent ; as 
I handed her to her carriage, I assured her 
that I envied the happiness of the person 
who had informed her of the falling-out of 
the king and Madame de Valentinois. 

" At once I went to see Sancerre ; I re- 
proached him, and said that I knew of his 
passion for Madame de Tournon, but I did 
not say how I had found it out. He felt 
obliged to make a complete confession. I 
then told him how it was I had discovered 
his secret, and he told me all about the affair; 
he said that inasmuch as he was a younger 
son, and far from having any claims to such 
an honor, she was yet determined to marry 

136 The Princess of Cleves. 

him. No one could be more surprised than 
I was. I urged Sancerre to hasten his mar- 
riage, and told him that he would be justified 
in fearing anything from a woman who was 
so full of craft that she could play so false a 
part before the public. He said in reply that 
her grief had been sincere, but that it had 
yielded before her affection for him, and 
that she could not suddenly make this great 
change manifest. He brought up many 
other things in her defence, which showed 
me clearly how much in love he was; he 
assured me that he would persuade her to 
let me know all about the passion he had 
for her, since it was she who had let out the 
secret, and in fact he compelled her to 
consent, though with much difficulty, and I 
was from that time fully admitted to their 

" I have never seen a woman so honorable 
and agreeable toward her lover; yet I was 
always pained by her affectation of grief. 
Sancerre was so much in love, and so well 

The Princess of Cloves. 137 

satisfied with the way she treated him, 
that he was almost afraid to urge their 
marriage, lest she should think that he was 
moved thereto by interest rather than pas- 
sion. Still, he often talked to her about it, 
and she seemed to have decided to marry 
him ; she even began to leave her retirement 
and to reappear in the world, she used to 
come to my sister-in-law's at the time when 
part of the court used to be there. Sancerre 
came very seldom ; but those who were there 
every evening and met her often, found her 
very charming. 

" Shortly after she began to come out 
again into society, Sancerre imagined that 
he detected some coolness in her love for 
him. He spoke to me about it several times 
without rousing any anxiety in me by his com- 
plaints ; but when at length he told me that 
instead of hastening, she seemed to be post- 
poning their marriage, I began to think that 
he had good grounds for uneasiness. I said 
that even if Madame de Tournon's passion 

138 The Princess of C I eves. 

should lessen after lasting for two years, he 
ought not to be surprised ; that even if it did 
not lessen, and though it should not be 
strong enough to persuade her to marry 
him, he ought not to complain; since their 
marriage would injure her much in the eyes 
of the public, not only because he was not 
a very good match for her, but because it 
would affect her reputation: hence that all 
he could reasonably desire was that she 
should not deceive him and feed him with 
false hopes. I also said that if she had not 
the courage to marry him, or if she should 
confess that she loved some one else, 
he ought not to be angry or complain, 
but preserve his esteem and gratitude for 

"'I give you the advice,' I said to him, 
' which I should take myself; for I am so 
touched by sincerity that I believe that if 
my mistress, or my wife, were to confess 
that any one pleased her, I should be dis- 
tressed without being angered, and should 

The Princess of C I eves. 139 

lay aside the character of lover or husband 
to advise and sympathize with her.' " 

At these words Madame de Cleves 
blushed, finding a certain likeness to her own 


condition which surprised her and distressed 
her for some time. 

" Sancerre spoke to Madame de Tournon," 
Monsieur de Cleves went on, " telling her 
everything I had advised ; but she reassured 
him with such tact and seemed so pained 
by his suspicions that she entirely dispelled 
them. Nevertheless she postponed their mar- 
riage until after a long journey which he 
was about to make ; but her conduct was 
so discreet up to the time of his departure, 
and she seemed so grieved at parting with 
him, that I, as well as he, believed that she 
truly loved him. He went away about three 
months ago. During his absence I saw 
Madame de Tournon very seldom; you have 
taken up all my time, and I only knew that 
Sancerre was to return soon. 

" The day before yesterday, on my arrival 

140 The Princess of Cleves. 

m Paris, I heard that she was dead. I at 
once sent to his house to find out if they 
had heard from him, and was told that he 
had arrived the day before, the very day 
of Madame de Tournon's death. I went at 
once to see him, knowing very well in what 
a state I should find him ; but his agony far 
exceeded what I had imagined. Never have 
I seen such deep and tender grief. As soon 
as he saw me, he embraced me, bursting into 
tears. ' I shall never see her again,' he said, 
' I shall never see her again ; she is dead ! 
I was not worthy of her; but I shall soon 
follow her.' 

"After that he was silent; then from time 
to time he repeated : ' She is dead, and I 
shall never see her again ! ' Thereupon he 
would again burst into tears, and seemed out 
of his head. He told me he had received but 
few letters from her while away, but that 
this did not surprise him, because he well 
knew her aversion to running any risk in 
writing letters. He had no doubt that she 

The Princess of C I eves. 141 

would have married him on his return; and 
he looked upon her as the most amiable and 
faithful woman who had ever lived ; he be- 
lieved that she loved him tenderly, and that 
he had lost her at the moment when he made 
sure of winning her forever. These thoughts 
plunged him into the deepest distress, by 
which he was wholly overcome, and I con- 
fess that I was deeply moved. 

" Nevertheless, I was obliged to leave him 
to go to the king, but I promised to return 
soon. This I did ; but imagine my surprise 
when I found that he was in an entirely dif- 
ferent mood. He was pacing up and down 
his room with a wild face, and he stopped 
as if he were beside himself and said : ' Come, 
come ! see the most desperate man in the 
world ; I am ten thousand times unhappier 
than I was before, and what I have just heard 
of Madame de Tournon is worse than her 

" I thought that his grief had crazed him, 
for I could imagine nothing more terrible 

142 The Princess of C I eves. 

than the death of a loved mistress who re- 
turns one's love. I told him that so long as 
his grief had been within bounds I had un- 
derstood and sympathized with it; but that 
I should cease to pity him if he gave way 
to despair and lost his mind. ' I wish I 
could lose it, and my life too/ he exclaimed. 
' Madame de Tournon was unfaithful to me ; 
and I ascertained her infidelity and treachery 
the day after I heard of her death, at a time 
when my soul was filled with the deepest 
grief and the tenderest love that were ever 
felt, at a time when my heart was filled with 
the thought of her as the most perfect crea- 
ture that had ever lived, and the most gener- 
ous to me. I find that I was mistaken in 
her, and that she does not deserve my tears ; 
nevertheless, I have the same grief from her 
death as if she had been faithful to me, and 
I suffer from her infidelity as if she were 
not dead. Had I known of her changed feel- 
ing before she died, I should have been wild 
with wrath and jealousy, and should have 

The Princess of Cloves. 143 

been in some way hardened against the blow 
of her death ; but now I can get no consola- 
tion from it or hate her.' 

" You may judge of my surprise at what 
Sancerre told me; I asked him how he 
found this out. He told me that the moment 
I had left his room, Estouteville, an intimate 
friend of his, though he knew nothing of his 
love for Madame de Tournon, had come to 
see him ; that as soon as he had sat down, 
he burst into tears and said he begged his 
pardon for not having told him before what 
he was about to say; that he begged him to 
take pity on him ; that he had come to open 
his heart to him ; and that he saw before 
him a man utterly crushed by the death of 
Madame de Tournon. 

" ' That name,' said Sancerre, ' surprised 
me so that my first impulse was to tell him 
that I was much more distressed than he ; but 
I was unable to speak a word. He went on 
and told me that he had been in love with 
her for six months; that he had always 

144 The Princess of C I eves. 

meant to tell me, but she had forbidden it 
so firmly that he had not dared to disobey 
her; that almost ever since he fell in love 
with her she had taken a tender interest in 
him; that he only visited her secretly; that 
he had had the pleasure of consoling her for 
the loss of her husband ; and, finally, that he 
was on the point of marrying her at the time 
of her death, but that this marriage, which 
would have been one of love, would have 
appeared to be one of duty and obedience, 
because she had won over her father to com- 
mand this marriage, in order that there 
should not be any great change in her con- 
duct, which had indicated an unwillingness 
to contract a second marriage. 

" ' While Estouteville was speaking,' San- 
cerre went on, ' I fully believed him, because 
what he said seemed likely, and the time he 
had mentioned as that when he fell in love with 
Madame de Tournon coincided with that of 
her altered treatment of me. But a moment 
after, I thought him a liar, or at least out of 

The Princess of Cleves. 145 

his senses, and I was ready to tell him so. 
I thought, however, I would first make sure ; 
hence I began to question him and to show 
that I had my doubts. At last I was so per- 
sistent in the search of my unhappiness that 
he asked if I knew Madame de Tournon's 
handwriting, and placed on my bed four of 
her letters and her portrait. My brother 
happened to come in at that moment. Es- 
touteville's face was so stained with tears 
that he had to go away in order not to be 
seen in that state ; he told me that he would 
come back that evening to get the things 
he left. I sent my brother away, pretend- 
ing that I was not feeling well, being im- 
patient to read the letters, and still hoping 
to find something which would convince me 
that Estouteville was mistaken. But, alas, 
what did I not find ! What tenderness, 
what protestations, what promises to marry 
him, what letters ! She had never written 
me any like them. So,' he went on, ' I 

suffer at the same time grief for her death 
VOL. i. 10 

146 The Princess of C lives. 

and for her faithlessness, two misfortunes 
which have often been compared, but have 
never been felt at the same time by one 
person. I confess, to my shame, that I 
feel much more keenly her death than her 
change ; I cannot find her guilty enough 
to deserve to die. If she were still alive, 
I should have the pleasure of reproaching 
her, of avenging myself by showing her 
how great was her injustice. But I shall 
never see her again.' He repeated, ' I shall 
never see her again, that is the bitterest 
blow of all ; I would gladly give up my 
life for hers. What a wish ! If she were 
to return, she would live for Estouteville. 
How happy I was yesterday ! ' he exclaimed, 
' how happy I was then ! I was the most 
sorely distressed man in the world ; but my 
distress was in the order of nature, and I 
drew some comfort from the thought that I 
could never be consoled. To-day all my feel- 
ings are false ones ; I pay to the pretended 
love she felt for me the same tribute that 

The Princess of Cleves. 147 

I thought due to a real affection. I can 
neither hate nor love her memory; I am 
incapable of consolation or of grief. At 
least,' he said, turning suddenly toward me, 
1 let me, I beg of you, never see Estoute- 
ville again ; his very name fills me with 
horror. I know very well that I have no 
reason to blame him ; it is my own fault for 
concealing from him my love for Madame 
de Tournon : if he had known of it, he would 
perhaps have never cared for her, and she 
would not have been unfaithful to me. He 
came to see me to confide his grief; I really 
pity him. Yes, and with good reason/ he 
exclaimed ; ' he loved Madame de Tournon 
and was loved by her. He will never see 
her again ; yet I feel that I cannot keep 
from hating him. Once more, I beg of you 
never to let me see him again.' 

" Thereupon Sancerre burst again into 
tears, mourning Madame de Tournon, say- 
ing to her the tenderest things imaginable ; 
thence he changed to hatred, complaints, 

148 The Princess of C I eves. 

reproaches, and denunciations of her conduct. 
When I saw him in this desperate state I 
knew that I should need some aid in calming 
him, so I sent for his brother, whom I had 
just left with the king. I went out to speak 
to him in the hall before he came in, and I 
told him what a state Sancerre was in. We 
gave orders that he was not to see Estoute- 
ville, and spent a good part of the night try- 
ing to persuade him to listen to reason. 
This morning I found him in still deeper 
distress; his brother is staying with him, 
and I have returned to you." 

" No one could be more surprised than I 
am," said Madame de Cleves, " for I thought 
Madame de Tournon incapable of both love 
and deception." 

" Address and dissimulation," answered 
Monsieur de Cleves, " could not go further. 
Notice that when Sancerre thought she had 
changed toward him, she really had, and 
had begun to love Estouteville. She told 
her new lover that he consoled her for her 

The Princess of Cloves. 149 

husband's death, and that it was he who was 
the cause of her returning to society; while 
it seemed to Sancerre that it was because 
we had decided that she should no longer 
appear to be in such deep affliction. She 
was able to persuade Estouteville to con- 
ceal their relations, and to seem obliged to 
marry him by her father's orders, as if it 
were the result of her care for her reputa- 
tion, and this in order to abandon Sancerre 
without leaving him ground for complaint. I 
must go back," continued Monsieur de Cleves, 
"to see this unhappy man, and I think you 
had better return to Paris. It is time for 
you to see company and to begin to receive 
the number of visits that await you." 

Madame de Cleves gave her consent, and 
they returned the next day. She found 
herself more tranquil about Monsieur de 
Nemours than she had been ; Madame de 
Chartres* dying words and her deep grief 
had for a time dulled her feelings, and she 
thought they had entirely changed. 

150 The Princess of C I eves. 

The evening of Madame de Cleves's arri- 
val the dauphiness came to see her, and 
after expressing her sympathy with her 
affliction, said that in order to drive away 
her sad thoughts she would tell her every- 
thing that had taken place at court during 
her absence, and narrated many incidents. 
" But what I most want to tell you," she 
added, " is that it is certain that Monsieur 
de Nemours is passionately in love, and 
that his most intimate friends are not only 
not in his confidence, but they can't even 
guess whom it is whom he loves. Yet this 
love is strong enough to make him neglect, 
or rather give up, the hope of a crown." 

The dauphiness then told Madame de 
Cleves the whole plan about England. " I 
heard what I have just told you," she went 
on, "from Monsieur d'Anville; and he said 
to me this morning that the king sent last 
evening for Monsieur de Nemours, after 
reading some letters from Lignerolles, who 
is anxious to return, and had written to the 

The Princess of C I eves. 151 

king that he was unable to explain to the 
Queen of England Monsieur de Nemours' 
delay ; that she is beginning to be offended ; 
and that although she has given no posi- 
tive answer, she had said enough to war- 
rant him in starting. The king read this 
letter to Monsieur de Nemours, who instead 
of talking seriously, as he had done in the 
beginning, only laughed and joked about 
Lignerolles' hopes. He said that the whole 
of Europe would blame, his imprudence if 
he were to presume to go to England as 
a claimant for the queen's hand without 
being assured of success. ' It seems to 
me too,' he went on, ' that I should not 
choose the present time for my journey, 
when the King of Spain is doing his best to 
marry her. In a love-affair he would not 
be a very formidable rival ; but I think that 
in a question of marrying, your Majesty 
would not advise me to try my chances 
against him.' ' I do advise you so in the 
present circumstances,' answered the king. 

I5 2 The Princess of C I eves. 

' But you have no occasion to fear him. I 
know that he has other thoughts, and even 
if he had not, Queen Mary was too unhappy 
under the Spanish yoke for one to believe that 
her sister wishes to assume it, or would let her- 
self be dazzled by the splendor of so many 
united crowns.' ' If she does not let her- 
self be dazzled by them,' went on Monsieur de 
Nemours, ' probably she will wish to marry 
for love; she has loved Lord Courtenay 
for several years. Queen Mary also loved 
him, and she would have married him, with 
the consent of the whole of England, had 
she not known that the youth and beauty 
of her sister Elizabeth attracted him more 
than the desire of reigning. Your Majesty 
knows that her violent jealousy caused her 
to throw them both into prison, then to 
exile Lord Courtenay, and finally decided 
her to marry the King of Spain. I be- 
lieve that Elizabeth, now that she is on the 
throne, will soon recall this lord and thus 
choose a man she has loved, who is very 

The Princess of C I eves. 153 

attractive, and who has suffered so much 
for her, rather than another whom she has 
never seen.' ' I should agree with you,' 
replied the king, ' if Courtenay were still 
living; but some days ago I heard that he 
had died at Padua, where he was living 
in banishment. I see very well,' he added, 
as he left Monsieur de Nemours, ' that it 
will be necessary to celebrate your mar- 
riage as we should celebrate the dauphin's, 
by sending ambassadors to marry the Queen 
of England by procuration.' 

" Monsieur d'Anville and the Vidame, who 
were present while the king was talking with 
Monsieur de Nemours, are convinced that it 
is this great passion which has dissuaded 
him from this plan. The Vidame, who is 
more intimate than any one with him, said 
to Madame de Martigues that the prince 
is changed beyond recognition; and what 
amazes him still more is that he never finds 
him engaged or absent, so that he supposes 
he never meets the woman he loves; and 

154 The Princess of C I eves. 

what is so surprising, is to see Monsieur 
de Nemours in love with a woman who 
does not return his passion." 

All this story that the dauphiness told her 
was as poison to Madame de Cleves. It was 
impossible for her not to feel sure that she 
was the woman whose name was unknown ; 
and she was overwhelmed with gratitude and 
tenderness when she learned from one who 
had the best means of knowing that this 
prince, who had already aroused her interest, 
hid his passion from every one, and for love 
of her gave up his chances of a crown. It is 
impossible to describe her agitation. If the 
dauphiness had observed her with any care, 
she would at once have seen that the story 
she had just repeated was by no means 
without interest to her; but having no 
suspicion of the truth, she went on with- 
. out noticing her. " Monsieur d'Anville," she 
added, " who, as I said, told me all this, 
thinks that I know more about it than he 
does, and he has so high an opinion of 

The Princess of Cleves. 155 

my charms that he is convinced that I am 
the only person who can make such a great 
change in Monsieur de Nemours." 

Madame de Cleves was agitated by this 
last remark of the crown princess, though 
not in the same way as a few moments be- 
fore. " I should readily agree with Monsieur 
d'Anville," she replied, " and it is certainly 
probable, Madame, that no one but a prin- 
cess like you could make him indifferent to 
the Queen of England." 

" I should at once acknowledge it," said 
the dauphiness, " if I knew that was the 
case, and I should know if it were true. 
Love-affairs of that sort do not escape the 
notice of those who inspire them ; they are 
the first to perceive them. Monsieur de Ne- 
mours has never paid ^ any but the most 

insignificant attentions ; but there is never- 
theless so great a difference between his way 
with me and his present conduct that I can 
assure you I am not the cause of the indif- 
ference he shows for the crown of England. 

156 The Princess of C lives. 

" I forget everything while I am with you," 
she went on, " and it had slipped my mind 
that I must go to see Madame Elisabeth. 
You know that peace is nearly concluded ; 
but what you don't know is that the King 
of Spain would not agree to a single article 
except on the condition that he, instead of 
the prince Don Carlos, his son, should marry 
this princess. The king had great difficulty 
in agreeing to this; at last he yielded, and 
has gone to tell Madame. I fancy she will 
be inconsolable ; it certainly cannot be pleas- 
ant to marry a man of the age and temper 
of the King of Spain, especially for her, who, 
in all the pride of youth and beauty, ex- 
pected to marry a young prince for whom 
she has a fancy, though she has never seen 
him. I don't know whether the king will 
find her as docile as he wishes, and he has 
asked me to go to see her; for he knows 
that she is fond of me, and imagines that I 
have some influence over her. I shall then 
make a very different visit, for I must go to 

The Princess of C lives. 157 

congratulate Madame, the king's sister. 
Everything is arranged for her marriage with 
Monsieur de Savoie, and he will be here 
shortly. Never was a person of the age of 
that princess so glad to marry. The court 
will be finer and larger than it has ever been, 
and in spite of your afflictions you must 
come and help us show the foreigners that 
we have some famous beauties here." 

Then the dauphiness left Madame de 
Cleves, and the next day Madame Elisabeth's 
marriage was known to every one. A few 
days later the king and the queens called on 
Madame de Cleves. Monsieur de Nemours, 
who had awaited her return with extreme 
impatience, and was very desirous of speak- 
ing to her alone, put off his call until every 
one should have leffli and it was unlikely 
that others would come in. His plan was 
successful, and he arrived just as the latest 
visitors were taking their departure. 

The princess was still lying down ; it was 
warm, and the sight of Monsieur de Nemours 

158 The Princess of Cleves. 

gave her face an additional color, which did 
not lessen her beauty. He sat down oppo- 
site her with the timidity and shyness that 
real passion gives. It was some time before 
he spoke; Madame de Cleves was equally 
confused, so that they kept a long silence. 
At last Monsieur de Nemours took courage, 
and expressed his sympathy with her grief. 
Madame de Cleves, who was glad to keep 
the conversation on this safe topic, spoke 
for some time about the loss she had experi- 
enced; and finally she said that when time 
should have dimmed the intensity of her 
grief, it would still leave a deep and lasting 
impression, and that her whole nature had 
been changed by it." 

" Great afflictions and violent passions," 
replied Monsieur de Nemours, " do greatly 
alter people ; as for me, I am entirely 
changed since I returned from Flanders. 
Many persons have noticed this alteration, 
and even the dauphiness spoke of it last 

The Princess of C I eves. 159 

" It is true," said Madame de Cleves, 
" that she has noticed it, and I think I 
have heard her say something about it." 

" I am not sorry, Madame," Monsieur de 
Nemours continued, " that she perceived it, 
but I should prefer that she should not 
be the only one to notice it. There are 
persons to whom one does not dare to give 
any other marks of the love one feels for 
them than those which do not affect them 
in any but an indirect way; and since one 
does not dare to show one's love, one would 
at least desire that they should see that one 
wishes not to be loved by any one else. One 
would like to have the^ know that there is 
no beauty, of whatever rank, whom one 
would not regard with indifference, and that 
there is no crown which one would wish to 
buy at the price of never seeing them. 
Women generally judge the love one has 
for them," he went on, " by the pains one 
takes to please them and to pursue them; 
but that is an easy matter, provided they 

160 The Princess of Cleves. 

are charming. What is difficult is not to 
yield to the pleasure of pursuing them, 
it is to avoid them, from fear of showing 
to the public or to them one's feelings ; and 
the most distinctive mark of a true attach- 
ment is to become entirely different from 
what one was, to be indifferent to ambition 
or pleasure after having devoted one's whole 
life to one or the other." 

Madame de Cleves readily understood the 
reference to her in these words. It seemed 
to her that she ought to answer them and 
express her disapproval ; it also seemed to 
her that she ought not to listen to them or 
show that she took his remarks to herself: 
she believed that she ought to speak, and 
also that she ought to say nothing. The re- 
marks of Monsieur de Nemours pleased and 
offended her equally; she saw in them a 
confirmation of what the crown princess had 
made her think, she found them full of 
gallantry and respect, but also bold and only 
too clear. Her interest in the prince caused 

The Princess of Cleves. 161 

an agitation which she could not control. 
The vaguest words of a man one likes pro- 
duce more emotion than the open declar- 
ations of a man one does not like. Hence 
she sat without saying a word, and Mon- 
sieur de Nemours noticed her silence, 
which would have seemed to him a happy 
omen, if the arrival of Monsieur de Cleves 
had not put an end to the talk and to his 

The Prince de Cleves had come to tell 
his wife the latest news about Sancerre ; but 
she had no great curiosity about the rest 
of that affair. She wasS, > interested in 
what had just happened that she could 
hardly hide her inattention. When she 
was able to think it all over, she perceived 
that she had been mistaken when she fan- 
cied that she had become indifferent to 
Monsieur de Nemours. His words had 
made all the impression he could desire, and 
had thoroughly convinced her of his passion. 
His actions harmonized too well with his 


1 62 The Princess of C lives. 

words for her to have any further doubts on 
the subject. She did not any longer indulge 
in the hope of not loving him; she merely 
determined to give him no further sign of it. 
This was a difficult undertaking, how diffi- 
cult she knew already. She was aware that 
her only chance of success lay in avoiding 
the prince, and her mourning enabled her 
to live in retirement ; she made it a pretext 
for not going to places where she might 
meet him. She was in great dejection ; her 
mother's death appeared to be the cause, 
and she sought no other. 

Monsieur de Nemours was in despair at 
not seeing her oftener; and knowing that he 
should not meet her at any assembly or en- 
tertainment at which the whole court was 
present, he could not make up his mind to 
go to them; he pretended a great interest 
in hunting, and made up hunting-parties on 
the days of the queens' assemblies. For a 
long time a slight indisposition served as a 
pretext for staying at home, and thus escap- 

The Princess of C I eves. 163 

ing going to places where he knew that 
Madame de Cleves would not be. 

Monsieur de Cleves was ailing at nearly 
the same time, and Madame de Cleves never 
left his room during his illness; but when he 
was better and began to see company, and 
among others Monsieur de Nemours, who, 
under the pretext of being still weak, used 
to spend a good part of every day with him, 
she determined not to stay there. Neverthe- 
less, she could not make up her mind to 
leave during his first visits; it was so long 
since she had seen him that she was anxious 
to meet him again. He too managed to 
make her listen to him, by what seemed like 
general talk; though she understood, from 
its reference to what he had said in his pre- 
vious visit to her, that he went hunting 
to get an opportunity for meditation, and 
that he stayed away from the assemblies 
because she was not there. 

At last Madame de Cleves put into execu- 
tion her decision to leave her husband's room 

164 The Princess of Cleves. 

when the duke should be there, though she 
found it a difficult task. Monsieur de 
Nemours observed that she avoided him, 
and was much pained. 

Monsieur de Cleves did not at first notice 
his wife's conduct; but at last he saw that 
she was unwilling to stay in his room when 
company was present. He spoke to her 
about it, and she replied that she did not 
think it quite proper that she should meet 
every evening all the young men of the 
court. She begged him to let her lead a 
more retired life than she had done before, 
because the presence of her mother, who 
was renowned for her virtue, had authorized 
many things impossible for a woman of 
her age. 

Monsieur de Cleves, who was generally 
kind and pleasant to his wife, was not so on 
this occasion ; he told her he was averse to 
any change in her conduct. She was 
tempted to tell him that there was a report 
that Monsieur de Nemours was in love with 

The Princess of CTeves, 165 

her; but she did not feel able to mention 
his name. She was also ashamed to assign 
a false reason, and to hide the truth from a 
man who had so good an opinion of her. 

A few days later, the king happened to 
be with the queen when she was receiving, 
and the company was talking about horo- 
scopes and predictions. Opinions were di- 
vided about the credence that ought to be 
given to them. The queen was inclined to 
believe in them; she maintained that after 
so many predictions had come true, it was 
impossible to doubt the exactness of this 
science. Others again held that the small 
number of lucky hits out of the numerous 
predictions that were made, proved that they 
were merely the result of chance. 

" In former times," said the king, " I was 
very curious about the future ; but I was 
told so much that was false or improbable 
that I became convinced that we can know 
nothing certain. A few years ago a famous 
astrologer came here. Every one went to 

1 66 The Princess of C I eves. 

see him, I as well as the rest, but without 
saying who I was; and I carried with me 
Monsieur de Guise and D'Escars, sending 
them into the room in front of me. Never- 
theless the astrologer addressed me first, as 
if he thought I was their master; perhaps 
he knew me, although he said something 
to me which seemed to show that he did 
not know who I was. He prophesied that 
I should be killed in a duel ; then he 
told Monsieur de Guise that he would be 
killed from behind, and D'Escars that he 
would have his skull broken by a kick from 
a horse. Monsieur de Guise was almost 
angry at hearing this, as if he were accused 
of running away; D'Escars was no more 
pleased at learning that he was going to 
perish by such an unfortunate accident, so 
that we all left the astrologer in extreme dis- 
content. I have no idea what will happen 
to Monsieur de Guise or to D'Escars, but it 
is very unlikely that I shall be killed in a 
duel. The King of Spain and I have just 

The Princess of C I eves. 167 

made peace ; and even if we had not, I doubt 
if we should resort to a personal combat, and 
it seems unlikely that I should challenge 
him, as my father challenged Charles V." 

After the king had mentioned the unhappy 
end which had been foretold him, those who 
had supported astrology gave up and agreed 
that it was unworthy of belief. " For my 
part," said Monsieur de Nemours, " I am the 
last man in the world to place any confidence 
in it;" and turning to Madame de Cleves, 
near whom he was, he said in a low voice: 
" I was told that I should be made happy 
by the kindness of the woman for whom 
I should have the most violent and the 
most respectful passion. You may judge, 
Madame, whether I ought to believe in 

The dauphiness, who fancied, from what 
Monsieur de Nemours had said aloud, that 
he was mentioning some absurd prophecy 
that had been made about him, asked him 
what he was saying to Madame de Cleves. 

1 68 The Princess of Cleves. 

He would have been embarrassed by this 
question if he had had less presence of mind ; 
but he answered without hesitation : " I was 
saying, Madame, that it had been predicted 
about me that I should rise to a lofty po- 
sition to which I should not even dare to 

" If that is the only prediction that 
has been made about you," replied the 
dauphiness, smiling, and thinking of the 
English scheme, " I do not advise you to 
denounce astrology; you might find good 
reasons for supporting it." 

Madame de Cleves understood what the 
crown princess referred to; but she also un- 
derstood that the happiness of which Mon- 
sieur de Nemours spoke, was not that of 
being king of England. 

As it was some time since her mother's 
death, Madame de Cleves had to appear 
again in society and to resume her visits 
at court. She met Monsieur de Nemours 
at the dauphiness's and at her own house, 

The Princess of Cleves. 169 

whither he often came with young nobles 
of his own age, in order not to be talked 
about; but she never saw him without an 
agitation which he readily perceived. 

In spite of the care she took to escape 
his glances and to talk less with him than 
with others, certain things inadvertently 
escaped her which convinced this prince 
that she was not indifferent to him. A less 
observant man than he would not, perhaps, 
have noticed them ; but so many women had 
been in love with him that it was hard 
for him not to know when he was loved. 
He perceived that the Chevalier de Guise 
was his rival, and that prince knew that 
Monsieur de Nemours was his. He was 
the only man at court who would have 
discovered this truth; his interest had rend- 
ered him more clear-sighted than the others. 
The knowledge they had of each other's 
feelings so embittered their relations that 
although there was no open breach, they 
were opposed in everything. In running at 

17 The Princess of Cleves. 

the ring and in all the amusements in which 
the king took part they were always on dif- 
ferent sides, and their rivalry was too intense 
to be hidden. 

The English scheme often recurred to Ma- 
dame de Cleves, and she felt that Monsieur 
de Nemours would not be able to withstand 
the king's advice and Lignerolles' urging. 
She noticed with pain that this last had not 
yet returned, and she awaited him with im- 
patience. If she had followed his move- 
ments, she would have learned the condition 
of that matter ; but the same feeling that in- 
spired her curiosity compelled her to con- 
ceal it, and she contented herself with mak- 
ing inquiries about the beauty, intelligence, 
and character of Queen Elizabeth. A por- 
trait of her was carried to the palace, and 
she found Elizabeth more beautiful than was 
pleasant to her, and she could not refrain 
from saying that it must flatter her. 

" I don't think so," replied the dauphiness, 
who was present. " Elizabeth has a great 

The Princess of C lives. 171 

reputation as a beauty and as the possessor 
of a mind far above the common, and I 
know that all my life she has been held up 
to me as an example. She ought to be at- 
tractive if she is like Anne Boleyn, her 
mother. Never was there a more amiable 
woman or one more charming both in ap- 
pearance and disposition. I have been 
told that her face was exceptionally viva- 
cious, and that she in no way resembled 
most English beauties." 

" It seems to me," said Madame de Cleves, 
" that I have heard that she was born in 

" Those who think so," replied the crown 
princess, are in error, "and I will tell you her 
history in a few words. She was born of 
a good English family. Henry VIII. had 
been in love with her sister and her mother, 
and it had even been suspected that she was 
his daughter. She came here with the sister 
of Henry VII., who married Louis XII. This 
young and gallant princess found it very 

1 7 2 The Princess of Cloves. 

hard to leave the court of France after her 
husband's death ; but Anne Boleyn, who 
shared her mistress's feelings, decided to 
stay. The late king was in love with her, 
and she remained as maid of honor to Queen 
Claude. This queen died, and Madame 
Marguerite, the king's sister, the Duchess of 
Alen^on, since then Queen of Navarre, whose 
stories you have seen, added Anne to her 
suite; it was from her that this queen re- 
ceived her inclination toward the new reli- 
gion. Then Anne returned to England, 
where she delighted every one. She had 
French manners, which please all nations; 
she sang well, and danced charmingly. She 
was made a lady in waiting to Queen 
Catherine of Aragon, and King Henry 
VIII. fell desperately in love with her. 

" Cardinal Wolsey, his favorite and prime 
minister, desired to be made pope ; and 
being dissatisfied with the emperor for not 
supporting his claims, he resolved to avenge 
himself by allying the king his master with 

The Princess of Cloves. 173 

France. He suggested to Henry VIII. that 
his marriage with the emperor's aunt was 
null and void, and proposed to him to marry 
the Duchess of Alengon, whose husband had 
just died. Anne Boleyn, being an ambitious 
woman, looked on this divorce as a possible 
step to the throne. She began to instil into 
the King of England the principles of Luth- 
eranism, and persuaded the late king to urge 
at Rome Henry's divorce, in the hope of his 
marriage with Madame d'Alengon. Cardinal 
Wolsey contrived to be sent to France on 
other pretexts to arrange this affair ; but his 
master would not consent to have the propo- 
sition made, and sent orders to Calais that 
this marriage was not to be mentioned. 

" On his return from France, Cardinal Wol- 
sey was received with honors equal to those 
paid to the king himself; never did a favo- 
rite display such haughtiness and vanity. 
He arranged an interview between the two 
kings, which took place at Boulogne. Fran- 
cis I. offered his hand to Henry VIII., who 

174 The Princess of Cleves. 

was unwilling to take it; they treated each 
other with great splendor, each giving the 
other clothes like those he himself wore. 
I remember having heard that those the 
late king sent to the King of England were 
of crimson satin trimmed with pearls and 
diamonds arranged in triangles, the cloak of 
white velvet embroidered with gold. After 
spending a few days at Boulogne, they went 
to Calais. Anne Boleyn was quartered in 
the house with Henry VIII. in the queen's 
suite, and Francis I. made her the same pres- 
ents and paid her the same honors as if she 
had been a queen herself. At last, after be- 
ing in love with her for nine years, Henry 
married her, without waiting for the annul- 
ment of his first marriage, which he had long 
been asking of Rome. The pope at once ex- 
communicated him; this so enraged Henry 
that he declared himself the head of the 
Church, and carried all England into the 
unhappy change of religion in which you 
now see it. 

The Princess of Cfeves. 175 

"Anne Boleyn did not long enjoy her 
grandeur, for one day, when she thought her 
position assured by the death of Catherine 
of Aragon, she happened to be present with 
all the court when the Viscount Rochford, 
her brother, was running at the ring. The 
king was suddenly overwhelmed by such an 
access of jealousy that he instantly left the 
spot, hastened to London, and gave orders 
for the arrest of the queen, the Viscount 
Rochford, and many others whom he be- 
lieved to be the queen's lovers or confidants. 
Although this jealousy seemed the work of 
a moment, it had for some time been insti- 
gated by the Viscountess Rochford, who 
could not endure her husband's intimacy 
with the queen, and represented it to the 
king as criminal intimacy; consequently he, 
being already in love with Jane Seymour, 
thought only of getting rid of Anne Boleyn. 
In less than three weeks he succeeded in 
having the queen and her brother brought 
to trial and beheaded, and he married Jane 

176 The Princess of C I eves. 

Seymour. He had afterward several wives, 
whom he either divorced or put to death, 
among others Catherine Howard, who had 
been the confidant of the Viscountess of 
Rochford, and was beheaded with her. 
Hence she was punished for the crimes 
with which she had blackened Anne Boleyn, 
and Henry VIII., having reached a mon- 
strous size, died." 

All the ladies present thanked the dau- 
phiness for teaching them so much about 
the English court, and among others Madame 
de Cleves, who could not refrain from asking 
more questions about Queen Elizabeth. 

The dauphiness had miniatures painted of 
all the beauties of the court to send to the 
queen her mother. The day when that of 
Madame de Cleves was receiving the last 
touches the crown princess came to spend 
the afternoon with her. Monsieur de 
Nemours was also there, for he neglected no 
opportunity of seeing Madame de Cleves, 
although he never seemed to court her so- 

The Princess of Cloves. 177 

ciety. She was so beautiful that day that he 
would surely have fallen in love with her then 
if he had not done so already; but he did not 
dare to sit with his eyes fixed on her, while 
she feared lest he should show too plainly 
the pleasure he found in looking at her. 

The crown princess asked Monsieur de 
Cleves for a miniature he had of his wife, to 
compare it with the one that was painting. 
All who were there expressed their opinion 
of both, and Madame de Cleves asked the 
painter to make a little correction in the 
hair of the old one. The artist took the 
miniature out of its case, and after working 
on it, set it down on the table. 

For a long time Monsieur de Nemours 
had been desiring to have a portrait of 
Madame de Cleves. When he saw this one, 
though it belonged to her husband, whom he 
tenderly loved, he could not resist the temp- 
tation to steal it; he thought that among 
the many persons present he should not be 

VOL. I 12 

178 The Princess of C I eves. 

The dauphiness was seated on the bed, 
speaking low to Madame de Cleves, who was 
standing in front of her. One of the curtains 
was only partly closed, and Madame de 
Cleves was able to see Monsieur de Nemours, 
whose back was against the table at the foot 
of the bed, without turning his head pick up 
something from this table. She at once 
guessed that it was her portrait, and she was 
so embarrassed that the crown princess 
noticed she was not listening to her, and 
asked her what she was looking at. At these 
words Monsieur de Nemours turned round 
and met Madame de Cleves' eyes fastened 
on him ; he felt sure that she must have 
seen what he had just done. 

Madame de Cleves was greatly embar- 
rassed. Her reason bade her ask for her 
portrait; but if she asked for it openly, she 
would announce to everyone the prince's feel- 
ings for her, and by asking for it privately, 
she would give him an opportunity to speak 
to her of his love, so that at last she judged 

The Princess of Cleves. 179 

it better to let him keep it, and she was 
very glad to be able to grant him a favor with- 
out his knowing that she did it of her own 
choice. Monsieur de Nemours, who ob- 
served her embarrassment and guessed its 
cause, came up to her and said in a low 
voice : " If you saw what I ventured to do, 
be good enough, Madame, to let me suppose 
that you know nothing about it; I do not 
dare to ask anything more." Then he went 
away, without waiting for an answer. 

The dauphiness, accompanied by all her 
ladies, went out for a walk. Monsieur de 
Nemours locked himself up in his own room, 
being unable to contain his joy at having in 
his possession a portrait of Madame de 
Cleves. He felt all the happiness that love 
can give. He loved the most charming 
woman of the court, and felt that in spite of 
herself she loved him ; he saw in everything 
she did the agitation and embarrassment 
which love evokes in the innocence of early 

180 The Princess of Cloves. 

That evening every one looked carefully 
for the portrait; when they found the case, 
no one supposed that it had been stolen, 
but that it had been dropped somewhere. 
Monsieur de Cleves was distressed at its loss, 
and after hunting for it in vain, told his wife, 
but evidently in jest, that she doubtless had 
some mysterious lover to whom she had 
given the portrait, or who had stolen it, for 
no one but a lover would care for the por- 
trait without the case. 

Although these words were not said seri- 
ously, they made a deep impression on the 
mind of Madame de Cleves and filled her 
with remorse. She thought of the violence 
of her love for Monsieur de Nemours, and 
perceived that she could not control either 
her words or her face. She reflected that 
Lignerolles had retunred, and that the Eng- 
lish scheme had no terrors for her ; that she 
had no longer grounds for suspecting the 
dauphiness; and finally, that, as she was 
without further defence, her only safety was 

The Princess of Cleves. 181 

in flight. Since, however, she knew she could 
not go away, she saw that she was in a most 
perilous condition, and ready to fall into what 
she judged to be the greatest possible mis- 
fortune, namely, betraying to Monsieur 
de Nemours the interest she felt in him. 
She recalled everything her mother had 
said to her on her death-bed, and her ad- 
vice to try everything rather than enter 
upon a love-affair. She remembered what 
her husband had said about her sincerity 
when he was speaking about Madame de 
Tournon, and it seemed to her that it was 
her duty to confess her passion for Monsieur 
de Nemours. She pondered over this for a 
long time ; then she was astonished that the 
thought occurred to her: she deemed it 
madness, and fell back into the agony of 


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